The University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought (Online ISSN 2369-3517) is an annual peer-reviewed scholarly journal affiliated with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Submissions and Editorial Correspondence
Executive Editor Josh Tapper Associate Editor Liza Futerman Associate Editor Alexis Lerner
Following a distinctive theme, each volume of the University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought collects high-level scholarly research from across the interdisciplinary world of Jewish Studies. In addition to traditional scholarly work based on research and analysis, the journal publishes reviews of books and films, poetry, short fiction, photo-essays, political and literary criticism, and interviews with leading Jewish Studies scholars. The journal also considers genres such as memoir and reportage. Submissions, including footnotes and bibliographic matter, should be formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. Submissions should also include an abstract and author contact information (e-mail address and phone number) along with a biographical paragraph not exceeding 100 words. Articles should not exceed 6,000 words. The journal will consider excerpts from longer works and thesis chapters. Send editorial queries and submissions to email@example.com. Copies of books for review should be mailed to: University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies University of Toronto 170 St. George Street, Room 218 Toronto, ON, M5R 2M9 Cover: Artwork and design by Nayoung Kim (NayoungKim0101@gmail.com) ÂŠ 2015 ÂŠ 2015 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought.
TABLE OF CONTENTS _______________ 2015 | Number 5 | Published Annually
Letter from the Editor | 1 | A Conversation with Daniel Boyarin | 4 | The Political Borderlines of Herod the Great Jason M. Schlude | 9 | “It is a Minhag”: Algerian Judaism Through the Eye of a Hebrew-Christian Missionary Noam Sienna | 23 | Between Utopia and Destruction: The Making of “Jazz Rhapsody on Soviet Jewish Themes” Noam Lemish | 43 | Crime and Punishment: Hate Crime Legislation, Public Opinion Polling and the Jewish Minority in Post-Soviet Russia Alexis Lerner | 57 | Memoir: Of Parsnips and Mother Tongues Liza Futerman | 74 |
Photo-Essay: Jew-Wandering Zohar Weiman-Kelman | 81 | Review: Yankelâ€™s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland Maria Carmela Poblador | 85 | Roundtable: Reading Together | 89 | Contributors | 92 |
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR _______________
It is with great excitement that I introduce this new issue of the University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought, a project founded and produced by graduate students affiliated with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. Let me begin by emphasizing what an enormous testament it is to both the fortitude of our small editorial staff and the faith of the university’s Jewish Studies department that this journal remains in existence. This issue—the journal’s fifth since 2011—arrives after a yearlong hiatus. I want to spotlight some of the new directions the journal has taken over the past year and express my sincere hope that they point to a rich and stimulating future. This issue is the first in the journal’s history to be published in a bounded volume, with a front cover and a back page and a table of contents. This move might seem antiquated in an age of digital publishing, but I have always believed published writing needs an exoskeleton; in my mind, it serves to prevent individual pieces from winding up as bibliographic orphans on the side of the virtual highway. To kick off this new initiative, the journal is privileged to feature a striking cover designed by Nayoung Kim, a Toronto-based Korean artist. Also in this issue, the journal steps beyond the already expansive bounds of its title to publish scholars who work in comparative literature, political science, queer studies, and anthropology. In that spirit of interdisciplinarity, I am excited to bring into the fold new creative forms, including memoir, photography and jazz composition. It was the idea of my predecessors to assign this edition the theme of “Boundaries” as an opportunity for scholars to reflect on the shape-shifting physical, conceptual and ideological borders that mark the Jewish experience across time and place. Talmudic scholar Daniel Boyarin, whose own discipline-defying work identifies and deconstructs boundaries not only between Jews and non-Jews but also within Jewish communities, is at the intellectual heart of this issue. In a wide-ranging interview conducted by members of the journal’s previous editorial team, Boyarin calls for both Jews and Muslims to recognize that there is no real ontological opposition between the two groups, and suggests that mutual awareness of this condition might eventually erode some of the ideological borders that divide them. Boyarin’s appeal illuminates an ineluctable reality of negotiating borderlines, whether they are social, cultural or political: it is no easy task. In different ways, contributors to this issue reflect on the challenges of circumventing, transecting and embracing boundaries. In some cases, complex borderlines exist in both the personal and political experience, as Jason M. Schlude masterfully shows in the case of Herod the Great, a figure of complicated cultural loyalties tasked with balancing allegiances to Rome and the people of Judea. In his essay on J.B. Crighton-Ginsburg, a nineteenth-
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Letter from the Editor
century (Jewish-born) Hebrew Christian missionary who worked among North African Jews, Noam Sienna describes how personal borderlines are often spaces of contention and discord, “never static, but rather continuous and porous zones of interference.” Yet these turbulent zones also yield bouts of tremendous creativity, as Noam Lemish, a jazz pianist and composer, proves in “Jazz Rhapsody on Soviet Jewish Themes,” an original composition that fuses the melodies of two Soviet Yiddish songs with his own unique musical DNA. In recovering these old songs, along with their tragic historical baggage and deep-rooted emotions, Lemish penetrates the border between past and present to produce music that honours a lost tradition while fashioning something entirely new. I encourage you to listen to the sound clips embedded in Lemish’s essay, “Between Utopia and Destruction: The Making of ‘Jazz Rhapsody on Soviet Jewish Themes,’” and look forward to the piece’s live premiere at the April 2016 conference Music and the Jewish World: Expression Across Real and Imaginary Boundaries hosted by the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. As Lemish evokes a Soviet past, Alexis Lerner reminds us of the Russian present. In the post-Soviet period, Russian Jews have taken great advantage of their freedom to emigrate, crossing the border by the hundreds of thousands. But lest we forget: thousands of Jews remain inside Russia. Legal protections implemented over the past two decades have helped cultivate an environment in which Jews are no longer primary targets of Russian xenophobia. But as Lerner discusses in her timely analysis of contemporary Russian anti-Semitism, the demarcation of Jewish space in such a volatile (and formerly hostile) country still requires delicate negotiation. In concluding the issue’s thematic content, an affecting memoir by Liza Futerman— herself a Russian immigrant to Israel—and a photo essay by Zohar Weiman-Kelman demand thoughtful consideration of the slippery linguistic boundaries and multifarious, and fluid, gender identities that exist throughout the Jewish world. In each of these creative reflections, the contributors leave us on a hopeful note, compelling us to wonder if boundaries and borderlines are, perhaps, increasingly evanescent in contemporary Jewish life. I hope you find the entire volume engages with—and interrogates—that thought. Finally, a number of people deserve immense, heartfelt thanks for breathing life into this issue: Liza Futerman and Alexis Lerner, both of whom performed tireless double duty as associate editors and contributors; Anna Shternshis, director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies, Doris Bergen, the centre’s graduate coordinator, Emily Springgay, Galina Vaisman, and Daniela Lev-Aviv; and Laurie Drake and the CJS Graduate Student Association executive team for their passionate support.
Josh Tapper University of Toronto
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A CONVERSATION WITH DANIEL BOYARIN _______________
n March 10, 2014, Daniel Boyarin, the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture at University of California, Berkeley, gave the Pearl and Jack Mandel Lecture in Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. The lecture, titled “Martyrology as Dialogue: Talmudic and Midrashic Connections with ‘Other Judaisms,’” was presented by the University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought and sponsored by the Centre for Jewish Studies. During his visit, Boyarin answered questions in a special seminar with Yaniv Feller, Jessica L. Radin and Amy Marie Fisher, past members of the journal’s editorial board. For decades, Boyarin has been a leading figure on subjects as diverse as sexuality and gender in Judaism, the “parting of ways” between Judaism and Christianity in antiquity, and Zionism. Some of his best-known works are Powers of Diaspora: Two Essays on the Relevance of Jewish Culture (2002), Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (2004), The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ (2013), and A Travelling Homeland: The Babylonian Talmud as Diaspora (2015). In the following interview, Boyarin briefly reflects on the value of dialogue in Jewish and Muslim interactions, the place of Israel in diasporic Jewish life and culture, and the role of academic Jewish Studies departments within the larger Jewish community. Jessica L. Radin: To what degree should a historical reading of Christian-Jewish dialogue affect our understanding of contemporary interfaith relations, given that there are new issues playing a far larger role in creating dialogue? Daniel Boyarin: First of all, let me say that I don’t like the concept of dialogue at all: dialogue implies set and settled identities. It implies institutional structures and commitments, and it implies pre-set conditions. It assumes: we’ll only talk to you if you acknowledge x, y, or z concept. But I would hope that dialogue could affect conversation in the sense that a different perception of who we are could conceivably lead to different ways of talking to each other and about each other. This could also lead to a lessened sense of binary opposition. I do hope that my work will lead in some ways to different places for conversation: for instance, acknowledging that the Trinity and incarnation are not some crazy, pagan influences on Christianity, but rather that they lie at the deepest roots of the Jewish heart of the Jesus movement. They can shift our perception of Jews who acknowledge Jesus—who we call Christians—and Jews who do not acknowledge Jesus. A lot of times Christians ask
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me, “Why did the Jews reject Jesus?” and I reply, “Who do you think accepted Jesus?” And I also say, “You know, if you know anything about Jews you know that we don’t all agree about anything, so what would you expect?” JLR: I’m interested in the distinction that you draw between dialogue and conversation, or between rhetoric and dialectic, particularly in your recent work on Thucydides and Plato. In light of these distinctions, would you characterize the conversations that we see between rabbis in the Talmud as dialogue or debate? DB: As dialogue yes, but not as dialogical. This is the important distinction that I make in Socrates and The Fat Rabbis (2009). The dialogical can be found more often in debate, or, in the Talmud, in the interaction between genres within the text. The interaction between genres in the Talmud is a kind of satire, which does not mean the same thing as satire in modernity. Satire comes from the Latin word satura. Satura was a dish with many different ingredients mixed and cooked together. So if, in that sense, we think of the whole Talmud as a satura—a cholent—it’s about different voices being put into a dialogical relationship. It is the machloket (debate) of the sugiah (Talmudic discourse) that I love. I used to see Talmudic dialectics in contrast to each other, but lately I see them as much more closely aligned in the excluding of any real conversation about foundations themselves. For example, we ask questions such as: “is it permitted or forbidden to eat an egg that was laid on yuntif (holiday)?” But what about the fundamental question: does it make sense to ask such a question at all? JLR: In both Jewish and Islamic philosophy, there is a lot of emphasis on the nature of the conversations that are taking place, particularly on the question of whether communication is rhetorical or dialectical and the implications of that distinction from political and pedagogical perspectives. What insights can our understanding of communication offer to Jewish-Muslim conversations? DB: I think, in general, a stronger focus on the way that Arab Jews and Arab Muslims have worked together in a common philosophical enterprise could certainly open up a space for different kinds of conversations between Jews and Muslims today. Not interfaith dialogue, but rather a recognition that for hundreds of years Islam and Judaism were not in a situation in which there needed to be dialogue; the two groups were already deeply engaged in shared conversations. The more that we foreground that there is no ontological, ahistorical or even age-old binary opposition between something called Judaism and something called Islam, the more we will be empowered and able to have different kinds of conversations with each other. We don’t need to have an idealized account of a golden age in order to remember that there was a time before “Jews” and “Arabs,” when the two groups were not in binary opposition. This awareness could facilitate our recognition and respect for a conversation that goes back at least a thousand years.
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Amy Marie Fisher: I’m particularly concerned about the line between the “Jewish” and the “non-Jewish.” I work in what is uncomfortably called “Second Temple Judaism” and I think a lot about what else to call it. DB: Well I certainly wouldn’t call it Judaism! AMF: So what would you call it? DB: The notion that there is something called “religion,” separable analytically from everything else that a group of people did and thought before the Enlightenment, strikes me as absurd. I would never talk of Second Temple Judaism, but I wouldn’t talk about Rabbinic Judaism either. I would talk about Jewish culture or Judean culture. AMF: I like the term judeos. DB: Right. “Judean” runs into problems because it sounds like it is referring to Judea, which implies that it is centered on the geographical region. It should not be restricted in that way. And “Jewish” raises other problems. “Judaic” might work in some ways. I think we can write whole books about the Jews without ever using the word religion or Judaism, and I’m trying to show that in a new book, Imagine No Religion (2016). I think that the notion of religion arises not just in the Enlightenment. It arises in a very specific political conditions, in conditions of empire when there is either a claim from the bottom or an attempt from the top to incorporate groups into the body politic who don’t worship as the majority do. And the minute that such a necessity or desire goes away, religion goes away as well. So Jews only get a “religion” as long as there is a desire to incorporate them into a polity. JLR: After thousands of years of Jews very obviously being on the borders, there is a place that claims to be the end of Jewish exile. Do you think there is validity to the claim that many in Israel make to its centrality? Can you elaborate on the effects you think those claims have on Jews and Jewish culture? DB: I’m bitterly, bitterly opposed to the claim that Israel is the Jewish people, or that it represents the Jewish people. When I see in Israeli papers—right-wing Israeli papers to be sure, but still—the claim that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is the leader of the Jewish people I am appalled to the point of vomiting. This is the consequence of a certain kind of Zionism—Ben-Gurion Zionism. There were Labour Zionists, even Labour Zionist forces, opposed to the forming of the state. Nationalism and stateism are not necessarily coeval. There is a version of nationalism that allows for the possibility of different nations sharing space—a trans-state nation—and I think that more robust development of such a model would bode well not just for the Jews but also other nations, such as the Kurds.
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JLR: In light of these claims to Israel’s centrality for twenty-first century Jews, what is the role of diaspora Jews? DB: To continue to develop robust Jewish cultures that include Israel and Israelis as part of a diasporic world Jewish culture; by writing in Hebrew and Yiddish; by developing powerful secularist Jewish cultures and a world in which yeshivas and secularism are in some kind of—tense, perhaps, but still vibrant—living interaction; and by studying Talmud and teaching Talmud. I have this crazy notion that the Talmud is the key to Jewish cultural existence. AMF: So are you suggesting that the Talmud is the centre of Jewish diaspora, and Israel and Israelis are part of this diaspora? DB: Absolutely! I argue exactly that in A Travelling Homeland. I think one of the most hopeful signs in Jewish life is the daf yomi movement, which has transversed the borders of the yeshiva world.1 There are all kinds of daf yomi taking place in Orthodox and nonOrthodox circles, including a young woman in England who does the daf yomi by drawing a picture of the day’s daf (page). I take it as a very good sign. JLR: One of the great benefits of academic centres devoted to Jewish Studies is that they’re not about Jews studying Judaism but about people studying Jews and Judaism. They’re not parochial. Can you comment on what this means for the future of Jewish Studies and its professors? DB: In many North American academic settings, centres for Jewish Studies have become the academic arm of Jewish communities, partly because of donor relations. I’ve even heard the question: what is the centre for Jewish Studies doing to make Jewish students feel good on campus? To see academic Jewish Studies even being called upon to make Jews comfortable seems like a disaster for Jewish life and Jewish Studies. But, at some centres, the livelihoods of the Jewish Studies professoriate are not dependent on pleasing the moreor-less official forces of the Jewish people. I am deeply attracted to the notion that Jewish Studies professors are a species of court jester. That professors have, by and large, been free of direct interference from the Jewish community means that we have been able to develop the uncomfortable and critical voices that need to be attended to. Plus, we have tenure.
Daf yomi means “page of the day”; Jews around the world read one page of Talmud in a cycle that covers 2,711 pages and lasts more than seven years.
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THE POLITICAL BORDERLINES OF HEROD THE GREAT JASON M. SCHLUDE College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University _______________
his issue of the University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought celebrates the work of Daniel Boyarin and how it has enriched our understanding of cultural and social borderlines in the history shared—and indeed actively constructed—by Jews and non-Jews. Often the concept of a borderline involves a boundary between two parties. Yet as Boyarin has shown in his research and writing, borderlines are more complex than that. The process of creating a borderline demands a negotiation of identity involving multiple parties. When discussing religious borderlines in late antiquity, these parties could be Christians, Jews and those branded heretics by each. In more modern times, these parties could be Christians, Jews and Muslims, as Boyarin points out in the preface of his namesake volume, Border Lines.1 Indeed, the process of determining borderlines is complex. One figure who demonstrates this complexity effectively is Herod the Great. Herod was a borderline figure in several ways. Attention routinely has been given to his Jewishness and the degree to which he belonged to a Jewish or to a non-Jewish world.2 For example, his father, Antipater, was an Idumaean, which may speak for or against Herod’s Jewishness. Idumaea was the land of Edom, but in the late second century BCE. John Hyrcanus theoretically converted the resident population, only allowing those who agreed to circumcision and to follow Jewish laws to remain in the territory.3 So perhaps Herod was an “authentic” Jew. Or perhaps he was more truly of Edom. We know that Herod declined to permit the marriage of his sister Salome to the Nabataean Syllaeus because the latter refused to adopt Jewish customs (including circumcision).4 And we may consider the quip by the fifth century CE source Macrobius that it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son, which, if true, suggests that Herod kept kosher.5 These references seem to speak to Herod’s
Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), xii-xv. 2 A topic discussed in some form in any comprehensive treatment of Herod. See: Peter Richardson, Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999). Richardson deals with the issue from several different angles in chapters on Herod’s family (33-51), building program (174-215), and religious orientation (240-261). 3 Josephus, Ant. 13.257-8. 4 Josephus, Ant. 16.220-5; War 1.401. 5 Macrobius, Saturnalia 2.4.11.
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observance of Jewish customs. Herod’s expansion and elaboration of the Jewish temple, one of his greatest building projects, further points to his dedication to Judaism.6 Perhaps the tendency of Herod to avoid figural art in wall paintings, mosaics and coins should be read similarly, as Jewish law traditionally prohibits this practice.7 Yet one must bear in mind that this was also the individual who endorsed the placement of an eagle sculpture above the great gate of the Jewish temple, a controversial decision for Jews who viewed the eagle as a violation of the second commandment.8 More problematic still would have been the sacred statuary associated with the three Roman imperial cult temples that Herod built at Samaria Sebaste, Caesarea Maritima and Banias!9 One might say that such decisions were more appropriate for a pagan. Considering these choices, where did Herod’s cultural loyalties lie? While more evidence could be cited and discussed, it appears clear from this selective review that Herod stood at the border between Jewish and non-Jewish worlds. Whatever his internal motivations, he actively participated in both. The subject of the following article is related, but follows a more focused line of inquiry: the political borderlines of Herod the Great. Over the years, scholars have explored what kind of king Herod was and have strived to highlight many of his political interests and roles. Most of this discussion has centered on his responsibilities as a Roman clientking. Appointed by Rome in 40 BCE, Herod was sensitive to his relationship with Rome and cultivated it with care. Yet he was also a king of the Jews and ruled with an eye on their interests (though some may question to what precise degree). Scholars also have considered Herod as a Hellenistic king—a model that better helps to explain Herod’s many benefactions, not only at home, but also abroad, in Syria, Phoenicia, Asia Minor, the Aegean islands, and Greece. From these various perspectives, we have come to appreciate 6
Josephus, Ant. 15.380-425; see also War 1.401 and 5.184-226. David Jacobson, for one, reviews the monument’s architectural details and Herod’s motivations. However, he explains the project less as an issue of personal Jewish piety and more in the context of Hellenistic and Roman patronage and style. David Jacobson, “The Jerusalem Temple of Herod the Great,” in The World of the Herods, ed. Nikos Kokkinos (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007), 145-176. For the architecture, see also Ehud Netzer, The Architecture of Herod the Great Builder (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 137-178. 7 For this issue and what follows, see Sarah Japp, “Public and Private Decorative Art in the Time of Herod the Great,” in The World of the Herods, 227-246, especially 242-244. 8 Josephus, Ant. 17.149-67; War 1.648-55. 9 Joesphus, War 1.403-14; Ant. 15.331-41. Netzer provides a convenient and streamlined review of the archaeological evidence, with reference to key bibliography: 85-89 (Samaria Sebaste), 103-106 (Caesarea Maritima), and 218-222 (Banias). The location of the Augusteum at Banias has proven a point of debate. Excavations since 1999 at the site Omrit, just south of Banias, have produced an excellent candidate: the temple identified as “Temple One” at Omrit. For a final report on its architecture, see Michael C. Nelson, The Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit: Volume 1: The Architecture, ed. J. Andrew Overman, Daniel Schowalter, and Michael C. Nelson (Leiden: Brill, 2015). See also Overman and Schowalter, eds., The Roman Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit: An Interim Report (Oxford: BAR International Series, 2011), which provides additional discussion. For a review of the latter, see Andrea Berlin in BASOR 369 (2013): 244-247, who suggests alternative explanations for this and another Omrit temple (called “Temple Two”). While Netzer was less inclined to accept the identification (222), other excavators at Banias have received it with more favor, e.g., John Francis Wilson and Vassilios Tzaferis, “An Herodian Capital in the North: Caesarea Philippi (Panias),” in The World of the Herods, 141; see John Francis Wilson, Caesarea Philippi: Banias, The Lost City of Pan (London: I. B. Tauris, 2004), 16. See below for further discussion.
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the many political roles negotiated by Herod: Roman client, Jewish king and Hellenistic ruler.10 This complexity, however, runs deeper still, and the concept of a borderline as employed by Boyarin helps us see the full extent of it. Most efforts to understand Herod’s political world have been subject to the gravitational pull of Rome, sometimes with the result of diminishing Herod’s agency.11 This is in part inevitable and not entirely inaccurate. Rome played a key role in Herod’s rise to prominence and kingship, and Herod lived within the confines of a territory that Rome dominated for most of his lifetime. I say “most” since this was not always the case. For a crucial window of time from 40-39 BCE, Judaea and its environs actually fell into the empire of Parthia, when its prince Pacorus led a force west of the Euphrates that conquered the Roman east, from Idumaea to Caria in Asia Minor. This is just the most striking example of how the geopolitical world of the Near East was not only Rome’s playground. Indeed, Herod was not only in Rome’s orbit, but also in that of Parthia. While scholars have acknowledged the Roman-Parthian borderline of Herod, there is still more to explore in this issue, and Boyarin’s emphasis on the active creation of borderlines (rather than their inevitable and impersonal genesis) enables the richest appreciation of it.12 In the first century BCE, Roman and Parthian efforts resulted in an evolving imperial boundary and dynamic to which those in the Near East had to respond. We can only fully understand Herod in relation to this Roman-Parthian borderline and through his manipulation of it in the interests of his own advancement. As the following investigation will show, Herod adeptly positioned himself between Rome and Parthia, sometimes embracing one while rejecting the other, sometimes extending his hand to each where possible, with the result 10
For a number of excellent studies that explore these roles of Herod, see David Jacobson and Nikos Kokkinos, eds., Herod and Augustus (Leiden: Brill, 2009). As the title indicates, the focus of this scholarly corpus is Herod’s relationship with Augustan Rome. But sensitivity is shown to elements of his behavior best explained in reference to the culture of Hellenistic kingship. See Erich S. Gruen, “Herod, Rome, and the Diaspora,” in Herod and Augustus, 13-27, who investigates the image that Herod projected of himself for various audiences as a “partner” of Rome, “benefactor of the multi-ethnic peoples of Palestine,” and Hellenistic king. 11 See once again Jacobson and Kokkinos, eds., Herod and Augustus. 12 Outstanding considerations of Herod in the context of Roman-Parthian relations include: J. Andrew Overman, “Between Rome and Parthia: Galilee and the Implications of Empire,” in A Wandering Galilean: Essays in Honour of Seán Freyne, ed. Zuleika Rodgers, Margaret Daly-Denton, and Anne FitzpatrickMcKinley (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 279-299; Aryeh Kasher, “Josephus on Herod’s Spring from the Shadows of the Parthian Invasion,” in Flavius Josephus: Interpretation and History, ed. Jack Pastor, Pnina Stern, and Menahem Mor (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 227-245. A range of other scholars, however, also acknowledge the significance of Parthia for Herod: e.g. David Braund, Rome and the Friendly King (London: Croon Helm, 1984), 24-25; Uriel Rappaport, “The Jews between Rome and Parthia,” in The Eastern Frontier of the Roman Empire, ed. David H. French and Chris S. Lightfoot (Oxford: BAR International Series, 1989), 374-375; Richard Sullivan, Near Eastern Royalty and Rome, 100-30 BC (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 222-225; Duane W. Roller, The Building Program of Herod the Great (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 14-15, 69; Richardson, Herod, 119-121, 124-130, 153-157, 161-162. Despite this attention, no scholar has addressed all of Herod’s decisions and actions potentially bearing on his relationship with Parthia. This paper attempts to treat them all, to trace the evolution of the relationship as far as the evidence allows, and to fully appreciate Herod’s agency in the process.
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The Political Borderlines of Herod the Great
that it would not be inappropriate for us to consider Herod the friend of both the Romans and the Parthians, if only for a time. The Model of Antipater That Herod approached politics open to some collaboration with the Parthians should not surprise us. His father Antipater shaped many of his inclinations. Antipater was a powerful Idumaean who supported the rights of the Hasmonean Hyrcanus II over his brother Aristobulus II. He was also a figure who consistently displayed international interests in his political behavior—interests that were by no means one-dimensional. Antipater linked himself to the most powerful Romans of the day, beginning in 63 BCE with Pompey and continuing throughout the rest of his career, to 43 BCE. It is important for us to notice how Antipater took care to make friends in many places so as to strengthen his own security. As Josephus emphasizes, “[Antipater] had won the support of powerful men everywhere through kindnesses and hospitality.”13 Consider the relationship that Antipater developed with the Nabataeans. Antipater married Cypros, Herod’s mother, who was “Arabian” and connected to the Nabataean royal family. This permitted Antipater to establish a friendship with the Nabataean king Aretas III, to whom he subsequently entrusted his children during one episode of his on-and-offagain conflict with Aristobulus.14 In fact, this relationship was strong enough by ca. 65 BCE that Antipater was able to arrange actual Nabataean military assistance for Hyrcanus.15 And not long after, in 63-62 BCE, when Pompey’s subordinate officer Scaurus besieged Aretas, Antipater played a key role in securing a settlement between Scaurus and Aretas. 16 While Josephus indicates that Antipater supported Roman interests in this instance, there is little doubt that he also did a favor to the Nabataeans (and he certainly spun it that way, too). Through Antipater’s efforts, the Romans ultimately raised the siege for a sum of 300 talents, an amount for which Antipater, according to the Antiquities, actually served as surety. One could read Antipater’s other international efforts in a similar manner. In 55 BCE, he brought aid to Gabinius when the latter was in the process of restoring Ptolemy XII Auletes to the throne of Egypt. At this time, Antipater engaged in negotiations with various Jewish Egyptians in order to smooth the army’s advance. 17 And Antipater also assisted Caesar in Egypt in 48-47 BCE when he joined the army of Mithridates of Pergamon and secured the help of the “Arabians” and others prominent in the region, including Syrian notables like Ptolemy and Jamblichus, as well as more Jewish Egyptians.18 Such actions directly assisted the Romans and Antipater was handsomely rewarded. As a result of his service, Caesar conferred upon Antipater Roman citizenship, tax exemption 13
Josephus, War 1.181. Josephus, War 1.181; Ant. 14.121-2. 15 Josephus, War 1.123-9; Ant. 14.14-33. 16 Josephus, War 1.159; Ant. 14.80-81. 17 Josephus, War 1.175; Ant. 14.100. 18 Josephus, War 1.187-193; Ant. 14.127-136. 14
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and official guardianship of Judaea.19 Yet Antipater surely had other motivations beyond cultivating a relationship with the Romans. He would have enjoyed the opportunity to broaden his circle of friends to include the Ptolemaic rulers whose position in Egypt he helped to solidify, as well as other regional leaders. Antipater advanced his own prominence, influence and power through developing relations with the Romans, but also through his relationship with the Nabataeans, the Egyptians and others. In short, Antipater worked the west and the east. With this in mind, it stands to reason that Herod would have been informed by this political approach at a critical stage of his development. His father put him in touch with a world bigger than Rome and allowed him to see the security benefits of a multilateral approach to foreign diplomacy in the Near East. As a result, Herod’s keen interest in Parthia seems natural. Herod and Parthia Herod’s interest in Parthia was necessary, considering the international power struggles of his day. Beginning in the mid-90s BCE, Roman and Parthian interests in the Near East brought Roman statesmen in contact with the Arsacid kings of Parthia. While the groups maintained peaceful relations for several decades, even settling on the Euphrates River as a working border between their respective empires under Pompey and Phraates III in the mid-60s BCE,20 the infamous Syrian governor Crassus brought the legacy of cooperation to an end. In 54-53 BCE, Crassus tried his hand at invading the Parthian empire, leading some seven Roman legions across the Euphrates River.21 The result was disastrous for the Romans. After a moderately successful initial campaign season in 54 BCE, Crassus renewed his efforts in the spring of 53 BCE. At this point, Crassus found himself confronted by a formidable cavalry force of mounted bowmen led by Surenas, a powerful local aristocrat loyal to the Parthian king Orodes II. Far more mobile than the Roman infantry troops, these horsemen avoided direct engagement and instead devastated the invaders with volley after volley of arrows. Crassus was forced to retreat to the nearby town of Carrhae, but the Parthians pursued and continued to exert pressure. In addition to the 19
Josephus, War 194-200; Ant. 14.137-143. See Jason M. Schlude, “Pompey and the Parthians,” Athenaeum 101.1 (2013): 163-181. 21 The principal sources for the Crassan campaign include: Plutarch, Crass. 14-33 and Dio Cassius 39.33.2, 40.12-28. For discussion see Neilson Carel Debevoise, A Political History of Parthia (Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1938), 78-95; William Woodthorpe Tarn, “Parthia,” in The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume IX: The Roman Republic, 133-44 B.C., ed. Stanley Arthur Cook et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951), 604-612; Karl-Heinz Ziegler, Die Beziehungen zwischen Rom und den Partherreich: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte de Völkerrechts (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1964), 32-34; Adrian David Hugh Bivar, “The Political History of Iran under the Arsacids,” in The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3 (1): The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 48-56; Adrian Nicholas Sherwin-White, Roman Foreign Policy in the East, 168 B.C. to A.D. 1 (London: Duckworth, 1984), 279-290; Sullivan, Near Eastern Royalty and Rome, 306-309; Jozef Wolski, L’Empire des Arsacides (Lovanii: In Aedibus Peeters, 1993), 128-133; Gareth C. Sampson, The Defeat of Rome: Crassus, Carrhae, and the Invasion of the East (Barnsley: Pen and Sword Military, 2008); Giusto Traina, Carrhae, 9 juin 53 av. J.-C.: Anatomie d'une défaite (Paris: Belles Lettres, 2010). 20
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The Political Borderlines of Herod the Great
Romans they took as captives, the Parthians managed to secure a number of Roman military standards, which was considered a major dishonor by the Roman people. Crassus ultimately tried to negotiate his way out of the conflict in a diplomatic parlay that turned violent and led to his death. The surviving Romans fled to Syria. Matters only worsened for the Romans in subsequent years. In 40 BCE, Orodes II commissioned his son Pacorus to carry out a major invasion of Rome’s eastern territory.22 Pacorus crossed the Euphrates and exerted Parthian control over a territory extending from Idumaea through Caria. An effective Roman response came shortly after; in 39-38 BCE, Marc Antony’s subordinate, Ventidius, successfully pushed the Parthians out and renewed Rome’s presence in the Near East. But the damage had been done. In these episodes, the Parthians proved to locals in the Near East that Roman invincibility was a fiction and that Parthia was also a significant player in the region. Such recognition had important consequences for Herod. In this context, local dynasts and elites must have felt compelled to make connections with Rome and Parthia, when possible. Their survival demanded it. While hindsight tells us that Rome would remain dominant west of the Euphrates, they could not assume that at the time. Many elites may have thought that events were trending in another direction. For example, some also recognized the advantage of their position on the Roman-Parthian border; they could use the climate of Roman-Parthian distrust and conflict when negotiating with either side. With all this in mind, we see that local elites were not entirely passive. The tense circumstances afforded them some agency and the opportunity to manipulate their relations with Rome and Parthia to advance their own positions. To return to Herod specifically, while the evidence is not as full as we may like, there is certainly enough to demonstrate that Herod’s rise to power in Judaea and its environs is only fully understandable if we appreciate that Herod was in an area where the orbits of Rome and Parthia overlapped. In this situation, Herod took advantage of the Roman-Parthian power struggle and tried to work with each side, when possible, to enhance and shore up his position. A couple of examples illustrate Herod’s complex approach. First, consider how Herod ascended to the throne in 40 BCE. It was not only because of his qualities in general, but also his specific use of the Parthian invasion of that same year to secure the throne. In this invasion, the Parthians installed Aristobulus’s son Antigonus as their vassal king in Judaea. They also arrested Hyrcanus, brought him back to Parthia, and chased out Herod. 23 Herod’s first instinct was to approach the Nabataean king Malchus and try to utilize his family’s connections to Malchus’s court to secure funding for negotiation with the Parthians. Josephus indicates that Herod wished to ransom his brother Phasael, whom the Parthians had arrested along with Hyrcanus and who, unbeknownst to Herod, had perished by suicide or foul play by this point. Josephus mentions Herod’s interest in 300 talents, the same price that Antipater convinced the previous Nabataean king, Aretas, to pay to have 22
For this invasion in the context of Parthian activities after the Crassan campaign, see Jason M. Schlude, “The Parthian Response to the Campaign of Crassus,” Latomus 71 (2012): 11-23. 23 Josephus, War 1.248-73; Ant. 14.330-69.
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Scaurus lift a Roman siege. At any rate, Malchus refused to assist Herod.24 As a result, Herod finally decided to go to Rome for support, where he informed Antony of everything, emphasizing the Parthian aggression and threat, and angled for kingship and Roman assistance.25 To be sure, it is well known that Josephus, our primary source for all of this, at one point remarks that Herod actually went to Rome to secure the royal rights of his brother-in-law Aristobulus III.26 But as a number of scholars have recognized, this was a later attempt by Herod to rewrite history for a domestic audience.27 In reality, it was not unreasonable for Herod to think that he had a shot at the kingship. Cassius had promised it to Herod in 43 BCE,28 Antony not long after made Herod a “tetrarch” in 42-41 BCE,29 and Herod was betrothed to a member of the royal Hasmonean family.30 Furthermore, Josephus makes clear that Herod was after the throne when he notes that Herod offered Antony a bribe contingent upon his kingship in Rome in 40 BCE.31 In the end, Herod’s efforts paid off; he was presented favorably to the Roman senate and achieved his goal. As Josephus describes: When Messala and Atratinus after him assembled the Senate, they produced Herod, reviewed the benefactions of his father, and recalled the good will, which he himself had for the Romans. And they at once leveled charges against Antigonus and proved him hostile, not only because of his first quarrel with them, but because he received his royal power from the Parthians and thereby had slighted the Romans. And when the Senate had been stirred by these things, Antony came forward and instructed them that it was also advantageous for the war against the Parthians that Herod be king. And since this seemed good to all, they voted to approve it.32
Parthia was a major factor in Herod’s promotion to king of Judaea.33 Fundamentally, it was Roman outrage over the Parthian installment of a vassal king in Judaea that led the senate to appoint its own man, Herod, king of the territory. But Herod’s active role in this deserves emphasis. In the midst of the Parthian invasion of 40 BCE, he first considered and moved toward negotiation with the Parthians, but then changed tactics and appealed to Rome, where he deftly manipulated Roman concerns about the Parthian threat to secure a crown. The creation and negotiation of the Roman-Parthian border was a complex process involving the active participation of multiple parties: Roman statesmen, Parthian 24
Josephus, War 1.274-6; Ant. 14.370-3. See in general Josephus, Ant. 14.3.74-89, which is fuller than War 14.277-85. 26 Josephus, Ant. 14.386-7. 27 See Kasher, “Josephus on Herod’s Spring,” 239-240. 28 Josephus, War 1.225; Ant. 14.280. 29 Josephus, War 1.244; Ant. 14.326. 30 Josephus, War 1.241; Ant. 14.300. 31 Josephus, Ant. 14.382. 32 Josephus, Ant. 14.384-5; cf. War 1.284. 33 See Rappaport, “The Jews between Rome and Parthia,” 375; Sullivan, Near Eastern Royalty and Rome, 222; Roller, The Building Program of Herod the Great, 14-15, 69; Richardson, Herod, 127-128; Kasher, “Josephus on Herod’s Spring,” 239-240. 25
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royals and the many elites and dynasts living between the Mediterranean seaboard and the Euphrates River. Herod used the border for his own benefit. The second example of such borderline activity involves an attested direct diplomatic exchange between Herod and the Parthian king Phraates IV in 36 BCE. As mentioned earlier, after his arrest Hyrcanus was brought back into the Parthian empire in 40 BCE, no doubt as a partial check on Antigonus, the new Parthian vassal.34 He remained there for several years as the newly crowned Herod returned to the Near East in 39 BCE as part of the Roman effort to recover lost territory. Incidentally, they were able to complete this process by 37 BCE. Ventidius defeated the Parthians and Herod tenaciously eliminated resistance from Antigonusâ€™s supporters. Eventually, Herod took Jerusalem, Antigonus surrendered to the Romans, and Marc Antony had Antigonus executed. 35 Herod later initiated a diplomatic exchange with the Parthians in which Phraates granted permission for Hyrcanus to return to Judaea in 36 BCE. According to Josephus: Herod wrote and called on him [Hyrcanus] to ask Phraates and the Jews there to not refuse this opportunity for him to share the kingship with Herod. For it was just the right time for Herod to repay and Hyrcanus to be rewarded for the good deeds that he enjoyed when he had been supported and saved by him. While writing these things to Hyrcanus, Herod also sent Saramalla as an envoy and a great number of gifts to Phraates, asking that he not prevent Herod from showing his favor to the benefactor who similarly treated him so well. But that was not the reason for his eagerness. Rather, on account of the fact that he himself was not worthy to rule, he feared the changes that might come for good reason. And he hastened to get Hyrcanus into his own hands or even to completely put him out of the way. For this he did later.36
As mentioned, Phraates agreed and Hyrcanus returned. I emphasize here that Herod carried out a productive and direct diplomatic exchange with the Parthian king Phraates. This is an exchange many scholars neglect to highlight. As for why he initiated it in 36 BCE, two factors are key. First, the Parthian vassal Antigonus was no longer a complicating factor. And second, it came right after an important shift in the Parthian kingship. Orodes died in 37 BCE. The Parthian invasion and installation of Antigonus as king took place under his auspices three years earlier. With Orodes out of the way, there was a chance for diplomatic negotiation. Indeed it is no coincidence that Antony at this time also opened up diplomatic channels with Parthia. As Cassius Dio tells us, in winter or spring of 36 BCE, after allowing a Parthian refugee named Monaeses to return to the Parthian empire, Antony also sent envoys to Phraates in peace, to negotiate for the return of the standards and prisoners of war lost by Crassus in 53 BCE.37 Dio would have us believe that this was all part of a ruse to throw Phraates off, while Antony was preparing war: 34
See references in fn. 23 and especially Josephus, War 1.273. Josephus, War 1.286-357; Ant. 14.390-491. 36 Josephus, Ant. 15.18-19; cf. War 1.434, which is condensed. 37 Dio Cassius 49.24. 35
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Accordingly, he [Antony] sent him [Monaeses] forth on the ground that he would win the Parthians over to himself, and sent envoys with him to Phraates. He was pretending to try to achieve peace on the condition that he receive the standards and captives taken in the disaster of Crassus. This was in order that he might catch the king unprepared on account of his hope for a settlement. But in fact he was making all things ready for war.38
Dio suggests that Antony was not single-minded in his tactics. Perhaps some of Dio’s hypothesizing is true. But there is no reason to think that Antony could not have been somewhat optimistic that he could score the standards and captives through diplomatic means at this time of political change in Parthia. It is interesting to consider whether it was Herod or Antony who contacted the Parthian king first. Unfortunately, the sources themselves do not give us a lock on the relative chronology. In fact, with such ambiguity, one may even ask if the two collaborated on a joint diplomatic effort. Such questions are important, and answers to them have bearing on our understanding of Herod’s role in the negotiation of the Roman-Parthian borderline. Was Herod a passive figure who absolutely took Antony’s lead and operated inseparably from Rome? Or was he more of an agent who reached out to Phraates on his own, either without Roman foreknowledge or after previously justifiying the action (perhaps in light of Antony’s interest in warming Roman-Parthian relations)? This is a many-sided question, not every part of which can be answered. What evidence we do have, however, at least suggests that this was an independent action by Herod. As we have seen, neither Dio nor Josephus connects these two diplomatic efforts. Nor do they suggest there was a common embassy of any sort. This is particularly notable in the case of Josephus, whose account routinely highlights the Herodian family’s collaborative efforts with Romans. Herod seems to have sent an embassy—no doubt with multiple aims—in his own name. As Josephus points out, it was an opportunity to take possession of the ranking member of the Hasmonean royal family from the Parthians, who were still clearly a threat. Only a few years before, they controlled the Near East. Perhaps they could do it again. But in addition, Herod certainly also used it as a chance to build up a rapport with the new Parthian king in the same dicey geopolitical context. Herod had real reason to be in the good graces of Parthia, too. Like Antipater, he was not a passive one-dimensional figure. Herod’s Tactics After 31–30 BCE This brings us back to the beginning. Based on the above observations, I contend we can fully comprehend Herod’s kingship only when we consider his actions in light of the political borderline between Rome and Parthia. Even as a Roman-appointed king, Herod secured his position by manipulating the threatening power of Parthia. In subsequent years, we see that Herod also worked to improve his standing with Parthia. He engaged fruitfully
Dio Cassius 49.24.5.
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with both of those states seeking hegemony in the Near East—at least through the mid-30s BCE. Herod’s circumstances changed after 31-30 BCE. Following the battle of Actium, in which Octavian fought and defeated Antony (who later committed suicide), Octavian became the Roman in charge in the Near East. Herod started to fear for his own position due to his alliance with Antony against Octavian and the fact that Hyrcanus was still alive. Might Octavian not dispense with Herod and crown Hyrcanus as king? Hyrcanus was the last surviving Hasmonean heir. But to guard against this possibility, Herod eliminated Hyrcanus, an act that was vicious but effective. Limited in his choices, Octavian maintained Herod as king.39 Scholars also have noted this act, but have not recognized its significance with regard to Parthia. Recall that Phraates returned Hyrcanus on the understanding that he was to be honored back in Judaea. That Herod killed him (to serve his more immediate needs) likely would have caused significant tension between Herod and Phraates. The problem would not have been Phraates’s personal concern for Hyrcanus and Phraates’s ethical orientation in general. One must remember that Phraates was a political realist and had a brutal streak as well. In fact, he may have come to power in 37 BCE after murdering his father, Orodes, his brothers and perhaps even a son to secure his grip on the throne.40 More likely, Herod’s decision to kill Hyrcanus caused problems in public policy and reputation. Indeed this hardly would have looked good for Phraates in the Parthian empire. Babylonian Jewry, an important constituency that honored Hyrcanus, would have been displeased and could have viewed Phraates as complicit in the act. In addition, it might have reflected poorly on Phraates in general, perhaps highlighting weakness of judgment and failure to command respect among regional dynasts. As a result, in 31-30 BCE Herod must have compromised to some degree the relationship he previously had developed with this Parthian king. From then on, Herod was even more dependent on Rome. This change, however, does not mean that Herod completely cut off all connections to Parthia. One scholar, who has rightly emphasized the importance of Herod’s relationship with Parthia, has suggested that Herod continued to be in contact with the Arsacid administration.41 J. Andrew Overman contends that Herod played some part in the Parthian return of the lost Crassan standards and captives in 20 BCE. According to this reconstruction, when Augustus (the proper designation for Octavian after 27 BCE) travelled to Syria in the late-20s BCE, it was Herod who put him in contact with the Parthian envoys whom he then used to ask for the standards and captives. When Augustus was successful, Herod escorted him back to the Mediterranean then proceeded to erect a Roman temple in celebration of the achievement. Yet the extant evidence may still confirm that not everything was business as usual for Herod and Phraates after 31-30 BCE. No ancient source credits Herod with facilitating 39
Josephus, Ant. 15.161-178. Dio Cassius 49.23.3-4; Justin 42.4.14-42.5.2; Plutarch, Crass. 33.5. 41 For the following, see J. Andrew Overman, “Omrit as Part of the Roman East,” in The Roman Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit, 12-15; J. Andrew Overman, Jack Olive, and Michael C. Nelson, “A Newly Discovered Herodian Temple at Khirbet Omrit in Northern Israel,” in The World of the Herods, 177-195; Overman, “Between Rome and Parthia,” 290-297. 40
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this productive Roman-Parthian exchange—not even Josephus. 42 This does not mean Herod played no such role. It was not unheard of for Roman client-kings to help facilitate Rome’s relationship with neighboring dynasts. And in fact, the record documents Herod’s offspring playing such a role with Parthia later on.43 Still, if true, the silence is peculiar, particularly in Josephus. Yet it would be explicable in light of the limited role that Herod might have played, as well as the special circumstances surrounding this episode. As for Herod’s role, it would have had to be low profile, considering once again his decision to kill Hyrcanus. Phraates likely could not afford to work too publically with Herod, a lightning rod to some in the Parthian empire. This only would have been more the case for their diplomatic engagement in 20 BCE, when Phraates sent Parthian notables (as “hostages”) to Rome.44 Neither side would have had interest in spotlighting Herod in that exchange; he had killed an important person secured through diplomacy with Parthia. As for the special circumstances, it has been well demonstrated how important this diplomatic accomplishment was for Augustus. He presented it in Rome as a military victory, and it became a cornerstone of his self-image.45 Perhaps Herod understood the significance of this event for Augustus and gave him full credit and a monopoly on its benefits. To the extent that this is true, it is reasonable to conclude that Herod maintained some contact with the Parthian court, though it was necessarily less public. Herod was a borderline figure in both the personal and the political. Regarding the political, Herod adroitly negotiated his responsibilities both to Rome and to his subject people. Another major borderline with which he contended was that between the Roman and Parthian empires. It is most useful to conceive of Herod’s behavior here as part of a multi-party and dynamic process in which Romans, Parthians and Near Eastern elites played active roles in the definition and manipulation of the Roman-Parthian border. Whenever possible, Herod worked with the Romans and the Parthians to maintain and enhance his own position. In the process, sometimes his actions made the Roman-Parthian border more hostile. Other times his actions encouraged peace. In the end, the RomanParthian border was crucial for Herod, and he played a significant role in helping to shape its character.46 42
The key sources for the return of the standards include: Dio Cassius 54.7-9; Augustus, RG 29; Strabo 16.1.28; Velleius Paterculus 2.91.1; Suetonius, Aug. 21.3. 43 Herod Antipas, for example, played a role in the diplomatic efforts to attain a Roman-Parthian peace and settlement during the negotiations of the Parthian king Artabanus III and Roman general Vitellius in 37/38 C.E on the banks of the Euphrates river. Antipas hosted a celebratory feast in the middle of the Euphrates. See Josephus, Ant. 18.101-5. 44 Suetonius, Aug. 21.3; Eutropius 7.9; Orosius 6.21.29. 45 Much work has been done on this issue. See, for example, the excellent piece by Charles Brian Rose, “The Parthians in Augustan Rome,” AJA 109 (2005): 21-75, with comprehensive bibliography. 46 I would like to thank Dr. Benjamin Rubin of Williams College and Dr. J. Andrew Overman of Macalester College, with whom I discussed various aspects of this article and who provided useful feedback. Also, I would like to express my appreciation to former editor Dr. Amy Fisher, current editor Josh Tapper, and the other editorial staff members at the University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought, who encouraged this piece and helped with its final polishing. I am responsible for any of the article’s remaining shortcomings.
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Bibliography Berlin, Andrea. “Review of J. A. Overman and D. N. Schowalter.” In The Roman Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit: An Interim Report, edited by J. Andrew Overman and Daniel Schowalter. Oxford: BAR International Series, 2011. In BASOR 369 (2013): 244-247. Bivar, Adrian David Hugh. “The Political History of Iran under the Arsacids.” In The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3 (1): The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods, edited by Ehsan Yarshater, 21-99. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Boyarin, Daniel. Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. Braund, David. Rome and the Friendly King. London: Croon Helm, 1984. Debevoise, Neilson Carel. A Political History of Parthia. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1938. Gruen, Erich S. “Herod, Rome, and the Diaspora.” In Herod and Augustus, edited by David Jacobson and Nikos Kokkinos, 13-27. Leiden: Brill, 2009. Jacobson, David. “The Jerusalem Temple of Herod the Great.” In The World of the Herods, edited by Nikos Kokkinos, 145-176. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007. ——, and Nikos Kokkinos, eds. Herod and Augustus. Leiden: Brill, 2009. Japp, Sarah. “Public and Private Decorative Art in the Time of Herod the Great.” In The World of the Herods, edited by Nikos Kokkinos, 227-246. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007. Kasher, Aryeh. “Josephus on Herod’s Spring from the Shadows of the Parthian Invasion.” In Flavius Josephus: Interpretation and History, edited by Jack Pastor, 227-245. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Nelson, Michael C. The Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit: Volume 1: The Architecture, edited by J. Andrew Overman, Daniel Schowalter, and Michael C. Nelson. Leiden: Brill, 2015. Netzer, Ehud. The Architecture of Herod the Great Builder. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006. Overman, J. Andrew. “Between Rome and Parthia: Galilee and the Implications of Empire.”In A Wandering Galilean: Essays in Honour of Seán Freyne, edited by Zuleika Rodgers, Margaret Daly-Denton, and Anne Fitzpatrick-McKinley, 279-299. Leiden: Brill, 2009. ——. “Omrit as Part of the Roman East.” In The Roman Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit: An Interim Report, edited by J. Andrew Overman and Daniel Schowalter, 7-17. Oxford: BAR International Series, 2011. ——, Jack Olive, and Michael C. Nelson, “A Newly Discovered Herodian Temple at Khirbet Omrit in Northern Israel.” In The World of the Herods, edited by Nikos Kokkinos, 177-195. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007. ——, and Daniel Schowalter, eds. The Roman Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit: An Interim Report. Oxford: BAR International Series, 2011.
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Rappaport, Uriel. “The Jews between Rome and Parthia.” In The Eastern Frontier of the Roman Empire, edited by David H. French and Chris S. Lightfoot, 373-381. Oxford: BAR International Series, 1989. Richardson, Peter. Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999. Roller, Duane W. The Building Program of Herod the Great. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Rose, Charles Brian. “The Parthians in Augustan Rome.” AJA 109 (2005): 21-75. Sampson, Gareth C. The Defeat of Rome: Crassus, Carrhae, and the Invasion of the East. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Military, 2008. Schlude, Jason M. “Pompey and the Parthians.” Athenaeum 101, no. 1 (2013): 163-181. ——. “The Parthian Response to the Campaign of Crassus.” Latomus 71 (2012): 11-23. Sherwin-White, Adrian Nicholas. Roman Foreign Policy in the East, 168 B.C. to A.D. 1. London: Duckworth, 1984. Sullivan, Richard. Near Eastern Royalty and Rome, 100-30 BC. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990. Tarn, William Woodthorpe. “Parthia.” In The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume IX: The Roman Republic, 133-44 B.C., edited by Stanley Arthur Cook, Frank E. Adcock, Norman Baynes, John Bagnell Bury, Martin Percival Charlesworth, and Charles Theodore Seltman, 574-613. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951. Traina, Giusto. Carrhae, 9 juin 53 av. J.-C.: Anatomie d'une défaite. Paris: Belles Lettres, 2010. Wilson, John Francis. Caesarea Philippi: Banias, The Lost City of Pan. London: I. B. Tauris, 2004. ——, and Vassilios Tzaferis. “An Herodian Capital in the North: Caesarea Philippi (Panias).” In The World of the Herods, edited by Nikos Kokkinos, 131-143. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007. Wolski, Jozef. L’Empire des Arsacides. Lovanii: In Aedibus Peeters, 1993. Ziegler, Karl-Heinz. Die Beziehungen zwischen Rom und den Partherreich: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte de Völkerrechts. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1964.
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“IT IS A MINHAG”: ALGERIAN JUDAISM THROUGH THE EYES OF A HEBREW-CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY NOAM SIENNA University of Minnesota _______________ Among the various emblems of this different difference remains the fact that there are Christians who are Jews, or perhaps better put, Jews who are Christians, even up to this day.1 A məs̆ṭi, məs̆ṭi dlalha, lʿrosa raiḥa ldarha. Gulu l-baba gulu lu, yibni daro ḥda dari. Baba umama kabruni, waja’ lgheir waʿbani.2
he border between Jews and Christians is an ambivalent zone, where communities attempt to define themselves against the other. This article explores the shifting boundaries between Jew and Christian and European and African in the correspondence of J.B. Crighton-Ginsburg, a Russian Jew who became a Christian missionary among the Jews of North Africa and Turkey. Crighton-Ginsburg’s story directs our attention to how borders are never static, but rather continuous and porous zones of interference; his Jewish-Christian-European-African hybridity disrupted even his fantasy of a stable identity. The place of difference, Homi Bhabha reminds us, is not merely opposition, but rather “a pressure, and a presence, that acts constantly, if unevenly, along the entire boundary of authorization.”3 For Christianity, the existence of Jews is both a reminder of Christianity’s Jewish origins as well as a symbol of the Church’s continued failure to achieve its universal message: Jews are both “the target of Christian missionary hopes, but … also the source of Christian genealogical anxieties.”4 For Judaism, on the other hand, the historical proximity of Christianity led to an intensified and intentional
Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 225. 2 “Comb, comb her braids, the bride is going to her house. / Tell father, tell him to build his house next to mine. / My father and mother raised me, and a stranger has taken me away.” This is a Judeo-Arabic henna song from Ighil-n-Ughu, in southern Morocco. Yehuda Darʿi. Haḥatuna hayehudit baqehilot kefariyyot: minhagei nissu’in b’Ighil n- Ughu [Jewish Marriage in Rural Communities: wedding customs in Ighil nUghu], in Haḥatuna hayehudit hamesoratit baMaroqo [The Jewish Traditional Marriage in Morocco], ed. Joseph Chetrit (Haifa: University of Haifa, 2003), 553-558. Unless otherwise noted, all translations in this article are by the author. I am especially grateful for the assistance of Abdel-Khalig Ali and Ramzi Taleb with Algerian Arabic. 3 Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Taylor and Francis, 1994), 109. 4 Naomi Seidman, Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 8.
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“It is a Minhag”
distancing. For example, in Jewish languages that developed in European-Christian contexts, words derived from Christianity were avoided (e.g. the Judeo-Espanyol alhad, which comes from the Arabic “first day,” or Sunday, instead of the Spanish domingo, or “the Lord’s day”5) or re-understood as terms of derision and ironic mockery (e.g. the Yiddish shoyte-tome, “Saint Thomas,” via the Hebrew shoṭe ṭame, or “impure fool”6). This linguistic aversion testifies to the constant “pressure” and “presence” of the Jewish-Christian boundary. Nineteenth-century Hebrew Christians, like ancient Judaeo-Christians and contemporary Messianic Jews, served as focal points for a particular kind of anxiety about the borders of both Christianity and Judaism, particularly within the Jewish community.7 However, Hebrew Christians themselves were also faced with the anxiety of the JewishChristian border. Their position as followers of Jesus placed them outside the boundaries of normative Judaism, but their identity as Hebrew Christians reinforced their continued link to their own Jewishness and to the Jewish community at large. Hebrew-Christian missionaries, in particular, were doubly situated in a liminal zone: they were Jews who had become Christians, and Christians who were attempting to represent Christianity to Jews. The Hebrew-Christian movement began in early-nineteenth century England, as Christian missionaries encouraged their converts to continue identifying ethnically as Jews; the founding of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews (LJS) in 1809 is often identified as a pivotal moment in the movement’s beginning, associated especially with German-born convert Joseph S. C. F. Frey (1771-1850). 8 In subsequent decades numerous other Hebrew-Christian organizations emerged; they translated and distributed Bibles in Hebrew and other Jewish languages, held church services in Hebrew, and trained missionaries to return to Jewish communities and preach the Gospel.9 While much of the work was aimed at Jewish communities in Europe, Hebrew-Christian missionaries were also prominent in missions to the Jews of Africa and Asia. 10 LJS missionary Thomas Halsted11 reported in the mid-nineteenth century that Hebrew-Christian missionaries were active in Constantine (Algeria), Cairo, Jerusalem, and Baghdad. Biographies of Hebrew 5
Haïm Vidal Sephiha, “‘Christianisms’ in Judeo-Spanish (Calque and Vernacular),” in Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages, ed. Joshua Fishman (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 183. 6 Ghil‘ad Zuckermann, “‘Etymythological Othering’ and the Power of ‘Lexical Engineering’ in Judaism, Islam and Christianity: A Socio-Philo(sopho)logical Perspective,” in Explorations in the Sociology of Language and Religion, ed. Tope Omoniyi and Joshua Fishman (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006), 240-242. 7 Yaacov Ariel, Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 1880-2000 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 55-76; Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Messianic Judaism (London: Cassell, 2000), 79-81; Boyarin, Border Lines, 37-73, 151-226. 8 Michael Darby, The Emergence of the Hebrew Christian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Leidin: Brill, 2010), 52-75. 9 Darby, Hebrew Christian Movement, 90-96, 159-184. 10 See Yaron Perry, British Mission to the Jews in Nineteenth-Century Palestine (London: Frank Cass, 2003) and Eliezer Bashan, The Anglican Mission and the Jews of Morocco in the 19th Century (Ramat Gan, Israel: BarIlan Univeristy, 1999). 11 Thomas Halsted, Our Missions: a History of the Principal Missionary Transactions of the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews (London: William Macintosh, 1866), 402.
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Christian missionaries who worked among the Jews of North Africa and Central Asia, such as Ferdinand Christian Ewald, Joseph Wolff and Henry Stern, are found in Louis Meyer’s 1903 book Eminent Hebrew Christians of the Nineteenth Century and Aaron Bernstein’s Some Jewish Witnesses for Christ (1909).12 Publications from the American Bible Society and the British Foreign and Bible Society showing the various languages of their translations include not only Hebrew and two dialects of Yiddish, but also Judeo-Persian, JudeoEspanyol for “Spanish Jews in Turkey,”13 Eastern Judeo-Arabic, for “Jews in Syria, Yemen, &c.,”14 and Tunisian Judeo-Arabic for “Jews in North Africa,”15 indicating that they saw missionary outreach to Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews as a crucial part of their work. The presence of European Hebrew-Christian missionaries in non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities raises important questions about their relationship to Judaism and Jews. Even Jewish European travellers among Jewish communities in North Africa and Central Asia claimed to experience complex feelings of liminality and shifting boundaries, as they identified with their Jewish co-religionists but also gazed at them from the distance of Europe looking at the Orient. The historian Asher Salah observes this dynamic, for example, in the narrative of the Italian-Jewish traveller Samuel Romanelli: When confronted with native Moroccans, [Romanelli] claims to be Italian, but when confronted with Europeans living in Morocco he is rejected for being a Jew. Sometimes he is perceived by local Jews as an atheist or a Christian, precisely when he would like to stress their belonging to a common faith … Romanelli’s world appears to be one of constant change, instability, heterogeneity, and sheer porosity.16
If Jewish travellers from Europe faced porous boundaries and blurred allegiances among their co-religionists in Africa and Asia, certainly the world of Hebrew-Christian travellers and missionaries was even more strongly marked by this instability. The Man and the Mission: J.B. (Crighton-)Ginsburg J.B. Crighton-Ginsburg,17 described as “one of this Anglican Society’s most controversial emissaries,”18 was born Baruch Ginsburg, in Kiev, around 1826.19 By his own account, his
Aaron Bernstein, Some Jewish Witnesses for Christ (London: Operative Jewish Converts’ Institution, 1909), 203-15; Louis Meyer, Eminent Hebrew Christians of the nineteenth century: brief biographical sketches, ed. David Rausch (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983) 45-56, 103-114. 13 American Bible Society, Illustration of the Different Languages and Dialects in which the Holy Bible in Whole or in Part has been Printed and Circulated (Columbian Exposition, 1893), 13. 14 American Bible Society, Illustration, 22. 15 John Sharp, The Gospel in Many Tongues (London: British and Foreign Bible Society, 1912), 97. 16 Asher Salah, “The Otherness of the Self: On Samuel Romanelli’s Travelogue,” European Journal of Jewish Studies 5, no. 2 (2011): 223. 17 He added Crighton to his name in 1886 after marrying his second wife, 21-year old heiress Sarah Ostle Crighton, in 1871. The remainder of this article will refer to him as Ginsburg, his name at the time under discussion. 18 Michael Menachem Laskier, “Review of Eliezer Bashan, The Anglican Mission and Moroccan Jewry in the Nineteenth Century,” AJS Review 26, no. 1 (2002): 166.
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father, Saul Ginsburg, was a rabbi, and trained his son for the same role. At some point in his youth, however, Baruch heard of “a Jewish sect” that followed only the Bible and rejected the Talmudic system of rabbinic law: Protestant Christians.20 After his father’s death, Baruch left Kiev and traveled through Europe, seeking his spiritual home. He found it in Berlin, where he met Hebrew-Christian missionaries Carl Schwartz, Joachim Biesenthal and Robert Belson, sometime around 1846. They gave Baruch a Hebrew translation of the New Testament, and, in Strasbourg, introduced him to LJS missionary Johann Peter Goldberg and his student Jacob August Hausmeister, with whom he converted to Christianity on May 16, 1847, 21 taking the name James. 22 After his conversion, Ginsburg studied at the London Missionary College from 1849-51; among his classmates were the notable Hebrew-Christian scholars Christian David Ginsburg (no relation) and Isaac Salkinsohn. 23 The three lived together in the house of Benjamin Davidson, the principal of the college.24 In 1857, after several years at the LJS mission in Mülhausen, Ginsburg was appointed to open a station in Constantine. He and his wife began work immediately: they held services, distributed Bibles and LJS literature, and opened schools for boys and girls, along with a “home for young Jewesses.”25 In 1860, he traveled south to visit the Mzab, and spent some time with the Jewish community of Ghardaïa. He was transferred to Algiers in 19
The 1851 census lists him as a Russian-born “student,” twenty-five years old. National Archives, 1851 Census of England and Wales, folio 55, 15. 20 Johannes Friedrich Alexander de le Roi, Die evangelische Christenheit und die Juden [Evangelical Christianity and the Jews, vol. 3] (Berlin: H. Reuther, 1892), 219. 21 de le Roi, Die evangelische Christenheit, 219-220; Bernstein, Some Jewish Witnesses, 234. According to Eliezer Bashan, Ginsburg immigrated to England in 1846 and converted there. Bashan, The Anglican Mission. This is at odds with earlier accounts that say he converted with Hausmeister and Goldberg, who were serving in Strasbourg. See: de le Roi, Die evangelische Christenheit; Edwin Munsell Bliss, The Encyclopedia of Missions: Descriptive, Historical, Biographical, Statistical (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1904); and Bernstein, Some Jewish Witnesses. 1909. Ginsburg himself writes that he “left [Russia] in the year 1846 and have ever since resided either in England or abroad [my emphasis].” It thus appears that he converted in France and left for England afterward. James Baruch Ginsburg, An Account of the Persecution of the Protestant Mission among the Jews at Mogador, Morocco (London: Edward G. Allen, 1880), 3. 22 Some secondary sources give his post-conversion name as James Barnet, but it appears that Barnet is a simple misreading of Baruch. See: Robert Attal, “Les missions protestantes anglicanes en Afrique du Nord et leurs publications en judéo-arabe à l'intention des Juifs [Protestant Anglican Missions in North Africa and their Judeo-Arabic Publications Aimed at Jews],” Revue des Études Juives 132 (1973) and Bashan, The Anglican Mission. I have not found Barnet in any primary source, and every source where Ginsburg wrote his own name (e.g. wedding certificates, publications) shows James Baruch. 23 Samuel Hinds Wilkinssohn, The Life of John Wilkinssohn, the Jewish Missionary (London: Morgan and Scott, 1908), 17. 24 According to the census, Benjamin Davidson lived at 48 Stanford St. with his wife Ann, his children Jane, Jessie, Benjamin, and Theodore, his nephew Henry O’Reilly, and five boarders: James Ginsburg, 25, Xtian [sic] D Ginsburg, 25, Moses [sic] Salkinson, 31, Matthew L. Mollis, 28, and Bezehil Herbestman, 33. They also had three servants living with them: Rachel Karley, 16, Marian Cockrane, 19, and James Harrison, 14. National Archives, 1851 Census of England and Wales, folio 55, 15. 25 That is, his first wife, Elizabeth Ricks, whom he married in 1853, and who died suddenly in Algiers in 1868.
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1864, opening the first Anglican church in North Africa there in 1870, 26 and then to Mogador (present-day Essaouira, Morocco) in 1875.27 The Jewish community in Mogador was intensely hostile. In 1879, riots and community protests broke out against his missionary activity.28 He was compelled to leave for London, where he published his only book, An Account of the Persecution of the Protestant Mission among the Jews at Mogador, Morocco, in 1880. It was an impassioned defence of his innocence in the affair, and a vehement denunciation of the British authorities who withdrew their protection and forced him to leave Morocco. Ginsburg then spent two years in Marseilles, where he obtained French citizenship, and returned to Mogador in 1882. He was transferred to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) in 1886, where he remained until his death on March 4, 1898. According to missionary sources, he was responsible for a total of 287 conversions through his work in North Africa and Turkey. 29 Several of his students, including Theodore Élie Zerbib, Solomon Darmon, Job Dahan, and Moses Ben Oliel, continued his missionary work among North African Jews.30 “This Extraordinary Phenomenon”: Ginsburg and the Henna Ceremony In March 1858, Ginsburg published a story in The Church of England magazine describing an Algerian Jewish wedding and the celebration of Sukkot. The narrative takes place in the fall of 1857,31 just after Ginsburg’s arrival in Algeria (the full text is reproduced in the Appendix),32 and it appears to be his first published report of his own missionary work.33 It 26
Charles Pelham Groves, The Planting of Christianity in Africa, Vol. 3: 1878-1914 (London: Lutterworth Press, 1955), 158. 27 See the accounts of his activity in Albert Edward Thompson, A Century of Jewish Missions (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1902), 168, 217-219; William Thomas Gidney, The history of the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, from 1809 to 1908 (London: London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, 1908), 391-394, 488-492; and Bernstein, Some Jewish Witnesses, 234. 28 Ginsburg’s activities in Morocco, as well as the responses of the Jewish community and civil authorities, are examined extensively in Bashan, The Anglican Mission, 40-112; Eliezer Bashan, Jewish Women in Morocco: Seen Through Letters from 1733-1905 (Ramat Gan, Israel: Bar-Ilan University, 2005), 74-81; and Mostafa Hassani-Idrissi, Aspects peu connus de la vie sociale des Juifs d’Essaouira: la mission protestante de J. B. C. Ginsburg et ses repercussions (1875-1886) [Less-Known Aspects of the Social Life of the Jews of Essaouira: the Protestant Mission of J. B. C. Ginsburg and its Repercussions], in Juifs du Maroc: identité et dialogue [The Jews of Morocco: Identity and Dialogue] (Saint-Étienne: La Pensée Sauvage, 1978), 167-174. 29 Combining Gidney’s figure of ninety-nine conversions at Istanbul and Heggøy’s figure of 188 for North Africa. See: Gidney, The history of the London Society, 546; and Willy Normann Heggøy, Fifty Years of Evangelical Missionary Movement in North Africa, 1881-1931 (PhD diss., Harford Seminary, 1960), 363. 30 Gidney, The history of the London Society, 569-70; Bernstein, Some Jewish Witnesses, 234. 31 The letter is dated September 1857, but the end of his letter describes Shemini ʿAṣeret, 22 Tishrei of the Hebrew calendar, which in the Hebrew year 5618 began on the evening of Friday, October 9, 1857. 32 His name is misprinted as “J.B. Grosberg, on a mission from the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews,” but it is clear that Ginsburg is intended, not least since he was the only LJS missionary to serve in Constantine. This misprint is perhaps why this significant window into Ginsburg’s early mission has escaped scholarly attention. The first part of the story is also reprinted anonymously in The Church of England, August 1858, with a short addition from Ginsburg about the Jewish community of Constantine.
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is a valuable record of Ginsburg’s first encounters with North African Jewry and his attempts to navigate the complex and intersecting boundaries that his work presented. LJS periodicals and missionary publications certainly cannot be considered objective descriptions of Jewish community life, but as Agnieszka Jagodzińska observes, they can still shed light on “the tension between contradictory Jewish images and attitudes towards Jews, trapped in the constant dialectics between the ideal, the real and the imagined.” 34 Significantly, Ginsburg’s narrative prefigures the conflicts that characterized his later work in Morocco and Turkey, and highlights the complexity of his position as a European Hebrew-Christian missionary among North African Jews. Ginsburg begins his narrative with his sighting of “four Jewish females, one of them carrying a plate filled with ‘henna,’ in the midst of which was a lighted tallow candle, surrounded with eggs. This extraordinary phenomenon, I thought, must be a religious ceremony.”35 He therefore stops to watch, and then proceeds to follow the procession, noting that the woman leading it uttered “loud shrieks … clamorous and frightful gesticulations” with her hand by her chin. The procession arrives at a small house, where a henna ceremony for a young Jewish bride is taking place. Ginsburg’s narrative expresses the curiosity that leads him to watch and follow this “extraordinary” phenomenon. Of course, it is only unusual to him as an Ashkenazi Jew unfamiliar with North African Jewish wedding traditions such as henna ceremonies, the zgharit (trilled ululations) and the zaffa (public wedding procession). There is nothing extraordinary about the inclusion of these elements in what seems to be a typical Algerian Jewish wedding. Ginsburg continues the story: as he enters the house, one of the women present approaches him and asks in Arabic, wafīn rāyaḥ (And where are you going?). The text leaves this question untranslated and unanswered. In fact, it appears that Ginsburg himself did not understand. He replies in Hebrew, asking, ma zōt (What is this?). The woman, who in return does not appear to understand his Hebrew question, simply invites him in, saying mrḥabā bik, (Welcome). 36 This moment of (mis)translation is the first tension introduced in Ginsburg’s narrative. It is not only linguistic—apparently, Ginsburg does not yet know Arabic,37 while this woman does not know Hebrew—but also symbolic of the 33
A story about Ginsburg’s work in Mülhausen appears in a report of Rev. Dietrich Hechler. See: Dietrich Hechler, “Mülhausen: Letter from Rev. D. Hechler,” Jewish Intelligence 22, (April 1856): 120-121. 34 Agnieszka Jagodzińska, “‘For Zion’s Sake I will Not Rest’: The London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews its 19th-Century Missionary Periodicals,” Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 82, no. 2 (2013): 385; see also Jagodzińksa, “‘English Missionaries’ Look at Polish Jews: The Value and Limitations of Missionary Reports as Source Material,” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry 27 (2014). 35 James Baruch Ginsburg, “Algeria—Marriage Ceremony—Feast of the In-gathering,” Church of England Magazine: under the superintendence of the Clergymen of the United Church of England and Ireland 44 (1858): 246. 36 Ginsburg, “Algeria,” 246. Ginsburg transcribes the exchange as follows: “One of the attendants, observing me gazing with the curiosity of a novice, came forward, and said, ‘Ovaïn rajah?’ I replied with another question in Hebrew, ‘Ma zott?’ As she did not seem to understand me, she rejoined, ‘Marhabo bick’ (Thou art welcome to look).” 37 By 1862, Ginsburg appears to have learned Arabic well enough to translate the Gospel of Matthew (chapters 1-13) into Algerian Arabic. Eric McCoy North, The Book of a Thousand Tongues: Being Some Account
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distance that separates Ginsburg and these Algerian Jews, his supposed people. This interaction fails to grant any of them the knowledge they desire. The woman remains ignorant to the identity and purpose of the visitor intruding on this community celebration and Ginsburg is refused any explanation or context for this unfamiliar “religious ceremony,” undermining his authority as an enlightened Jewish teacher. He then describes the appearance of a thirteen-year-old bride and her bridesmaid, “almost enveloped in chaplets, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and chains, their eyebrows blackened with kehol (kohl), and their fingers and toenails coloured red with the aforementioned henna.”38 Since her hands have already been hennaed, it appears that this is one of several henna ceremonies, as was common in North African Jewish communities. This night, in fact, was devoted to hennaing the bride’s hair. Ginsburg describes how the bride’s hair is covered with henna paste, wrapped in ribbons and left for a week: “it was to retain the colour, and remain in a dishevelled condition for eight days.” This ritual, known in various Maghrebi Jewish communities as azmomeg (etymology unclear), nhār al-bedyān (the day of beginning) or nhār aṭ-ṭarf al-byāḍ (the day of the white ribbon), was practiced by North African Jewish communities until the mid-twentieth century, 39 and is still remembered today by Israelis of North African descent.40 Beyond the general importance of pre-wedding henna in protecting and beautifying the bride, this ceremony had specific importance, and appears to be a unique innovation of the Jewish community. 41 Rahel Wasserfall interprets the symbolism of this ritual, where the henna is tied into the bride’s hair along with honey, butter and a partially cooked egg, as representing the bride’s transformation from “girl” into “woman,” and the actualization of her potential sexuality via the “cooking” of the egg, and the red staining of the henna.42 However, from his side of the boundary—lacking cultural context, and denied explanation—Ginsburg saw only dishevelled hair and clamorous, frightful gesticulations. While the bride was being hennaed, Ginsburg observed that “the bride’s relations and friends cried bitterly; and the rest talked loudly and laughed.” This is typical for henna ceremonies, which were both community celebrations and moments of personal transition of the Translation and Publication of All or Part of the Holy Scriptures in More than a Thousand Languages and Dialects (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1938), 54. 38 Ginsburg, “Algeria,” 246-247. 39 Elie Malka, Essai d’ethnographie traditionnelle des Mellahs: ou croyances, rites de passage, et vieilles pratiques des Israélites marocains [An attempt at a traditional ethnography of the mellahs: or beliefs, passage rituals, and old customs of Moroccan Jews] (Rabat: Imprimerie Omnia, 1946), 55; Issachar Ben-Ami, Le mariage traditionnel chez les Juifs marocains [The Traditional Marriage among Moroccan Jews], in Studies in Marriage Customs, ed. Issachar Ben-Ami and Dov Noy (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1974), 16. 40 Joëlle Allouche-Benayoun, “The Rites of Water for the Jewish Women of Algeria: Representations and Meanings,” in Women and Water: Menstruation in Jewish Life and Law, ed. Rahel Wasserfall (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 1999), 206; Rahel Wasserfall, “Community, Fertility, and Sexuality: identity formation among Moroccan Jewish immigrants,” in Women and Water, 187-197. 41 For henna’s symbolism in North African Jewish communities, see: Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, 2nd ed., s.v. “Henna” (Leiden: Brill, 2013). On the azmomeg, see Ben-Ami, “The Traditional Marriage,” 90. Ben-Ami indicates that this ritual is not found among North African Muslims. 42 Wasserfall, “Community, Fertility, and Sexuality,” 194.
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for the bride and her family. It was expected that the bride’s family would show some (ritualized) displays of sadness and even despair. Emotional laments for the loss of the young child who was moving away from her family were common (recall that the bride of Ginsburg’s story is only thirteen). For example, the Libyan Jewish scholar Mordekhai Hakohen (1856-1929) recorded that at the henna ceremony, “the bride feels pain in parting from her parents’ house, and weeps for her father and mother, and all of the members of the house weep for her parting.”43 In the Jewish community of the Souss, in southern Morocco, the bride traditionally sang the following tearful exchange at the azmomeg henna ceremony with her father: While the tamzwarat (bridal attendants) comb her hair, the bride cries: ‘O thankless father! Why have you given your daughter To the top of the mountain? Why did you not say My daughter is young She will stay close to me!’ Her father responds to her, while crying: ‘Give the girl to her cousin, She will come back and return to her mother.’44
Meanwhile, the henna ceremony is also a community celebration, and the evening was no doubt joyous. Numerous sources on Jewish henna ceremonies specify that singing and dancing often lasts into the early hours of the morning.45 But again, none of this cultural context was available to Ginsburg (or if it was, he chose not to acknowledge it). Instead, he represented the Algerian Jew as wild, inconsistent and uncontrolled. Ginsburg notes that at the end of the week, the rabbi would perform “the religious ceremony of the marriage, which had already been performed by the civil authorities.”46 This indicates that some Jews in Constantine would have their marriage registered with the civil authorities first, and then perform the week-long traditional festivities, concluding with qiddushin (the religious ceremony).47 This brief observation testifies to the tension already present in the Algerian-Jewish community between local religious custom and the European colonial presence. The French, who invaded Algeria in 1830, had already 43
Harvey Goldberg, The Book of Mordechai: A Study of the Jews of Libya, Selections from the “Highid Mordekhai” of Mordechai Hakohen (Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1980), 277. 44 Ben-Ami, “The Traditional Marriage,” 64. This was also a common theme of Yemenite Jewish henna ceremonies. See also: Rachel Sharaby, “The Bride’s Henna Ritual: Symbols, Meanings and Changes,” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues 11 (2006): 22. 45 See: Cohen 1904: 43; Goldberg, The Book of Mordechai; Ephraim Ben-Hur, Minhagei ḥatuna beJerba [Wedding Customs of Djerba] Yeda-‘Am 10 no. 28 (1964): 34-38; Bo’az Haddad, Sefer Jerba Yehudit [The Book of Jewish Djerba] (Jerusalem: Beit haOtzar haIvri, 1980). 46 Ginsburg, “Algeria,” 247. 47 In the mid-twentieth century, anthropologists Lloyd Cabot Briggs and Norina Lami Guède noted that in the Jewish community of Ghardaïa some couples were married “à la Française, that is … a French civil ceremony in addition to the religious Jewish one.” Briggs and Guède, No More Forever: A Saharan Jewish Town (Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum, 1964), 48.
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restricted the authority of Jewish religious courts to deal only with marriage and divorce in 1834. In 1841, rabbis were limited to rule only on religious matters that had no connection with French civil law; traditional Jewish marriage practices that contravened French law, such as polygamy, were outlawed. 48 Algerian Jews became more and more francisés (Gallicized), culminating in the naturalization of Algerian Jewry as French citizens by the Crémieux Decree in 1870.49 Since 1847, the Jewish community of Constantine (like Algiers and Oran) had been represented by a consistoire, a regional administrative body whose members answered to the central governing body, the Consistoire central israélite de France.50 Aside from this brief mention of civil marriage, throughout his letter Ginsburg portrays the Jews as primitive and wild, celebrating barefoot and on the floor.51 Ginsburg’s view divides the proceedings into an Orientalist binary, where the Algerian Jews represent everything that is unchanging, archaic, savage, and ignorant, while Ginsburg represents everything that is European, controlled, civilized, and enlightened. The realities of Algerian Jewish contact and conflict with Europe are silent in Ginsburg’s account.52 After the henna ceremony had finished, Ginsburg interrogated the shamash (synagogue caretaker) about what the ceremony signified. The shamash replied that he did not know. Ginsburg then asked the shamash whether he knew the Torah: “Have you a bible?” he asked. To which the shamash replied: “I have a Pentateuch.” The exchange continued: “‘Have you read it?’ ‘O, yes.’ ‘Do you remember what Moses said?’”53 Without waiting for a response, Ginsburg asks (sarcastically, one suspects) whether this minhag (custom) with “the hideous gestures of the crier and the washing of the hair”54 would lead non-Jews to think that the Jews were a great nation, wise and righteous (Ginsburg directed the shamash Deuteronomy to 4:1-8) or wicked and foolish, having abandoned God (here he cited Jeremiah 2:13). It is likely that Ginsburg was reading to him from a Hebrew Bible; the quotation given in Ginsburg’s text is not from any English version, and Ginsburg’s
Joshua Schreier, Arabs of the Jewish Faith: The Civilizing Mission in Colonial Algeria (Rutgers: Rutgers University Press, 2010), 143-176. 49 Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, 2nd ed., s.v. “Algeria.” 50 Michael Menachem Laskier, Sara Reguer, and Haim Saadoun, “Community Leadership and Structure,” in The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times, ed. Reeva Spector Simon, Michael Menachem Laskier, and Sara Reguer (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 53-54, 459-460. 51 Ginsburg, “Algeria,” 246. Ginsburg describes how the guests “[left] their sandals outside, walked barefooted, and with uncovered arms, into the hut, and seated themselves on the floor.” 52 This problem persists today, as noted by Alcalay: “All of these [Levantine Jewish scholars] had extensive contact with European Jewish intellectuals and institutions, yet a reading of almost any general history of modern Jewish thought would leave one with the impression that none of these persons ever existed, that the Levantine and Arab world remained plunged in darkness, totally unaware of what was taking place outside it,” Ammiel Alcalay, After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 154. For more reflective accounts of this encounter, see Norman Stillman, Sephardi Religious Responses to Modernity (Luxembourg: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1995); Harvey Goldberg, ed. Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries: History and Culture in the Modern Era (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1996); Spector Simon, Laskier, and Reguer, eds. The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa. 53 Ginsburg, “Algeria,” 247. 54 Ibid.
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Arabic does not seem good enough to have translated the Bible in spontaneous conversation. In thus applying biblical text to contemporary circumstances, Ginsburg is engaging in a kind of midrash (homiletics), attempting to engage his Jewish interlocutors in a familiar textual practice. It fails, however, to achieve the desired effect; the shamash simply replies, “It is a minhag,” and turns away with a shrug of his shoulders. What is the tone of the shamash’s retort? It could be read as the shamash himself dismissing the henna ceremony and its attendant rituals as merely minhag, separate and subordinate to the scripture Ginsburg read aloud. Alternatively, he could be celebrating the power of his community’s minhag, drawing on familiar Jewish understandings—minhag Yisrael kedin hu (Jewish custom has the force of law),55 minhag avoteinu beyadeinu (we follow the customs of our ancestors)56—and rejecting the Protestant attempt to delegitimize ritual as disconnected from and unauthorized by divine scripture. Did Ginsburg fail to elicit a response because of an inappropriate choice of text? Was the question offensive? Or was it another moment of mistranslation? This conflict over text is reminiscent of Bhabha’s description of the colonial scenario of the “wondrous book,” the symbol of European authority, desire and discipline, “repeated, translated, misread, [and] displaced.”57 And this is a double displacement, since Ginsburg is not bringing the book (at least not Deuteronomy or Jeremiah) to the shamash, who knows it well. In fact, both those portions had been read liturgically in synagogue a few months earlier.58 The futility of Ginsburg asking the shamash of a synagogue whether he has read the Torah, or remembers what Moses said, is a perfect encapsulation of the colonial presence, “split between its appearance as original and authoritative and its articulation as repetition and difference.”59 The question is oppressive in its performance of how it constructs the Other while silencing other sources of authority and authenticity. Ginsburg’s final question—about what non-Jews would think—arises from a European perspective; he does not consider whether Algerian Muslims might think it perfectly normal for Jews to have a henna ceremony. Indeed, they would likely hold a similar ceremony themselves.60 It is Ginsburg, not the native “Gentiles,” who considers this minhag wicked and foolish. Deuteronomy 4 warns the Israelites to hearken only to the laws of God, and not to “add to the word which I command you, nor take away from it,”61 which speaks to Ginsburg’s view of the strangeness of Algerian-Jewish culture and its adoption of “heathen” customs. In 1877, Ginsburg published a letter in the LJS magazine Jewish 55
A rabbinic phrase, also cited as minhag Yisrael (or avoteinu) Torah hi (Jewish custom has the force of Torah), e.g. Tosafot to Menahot 20b, s.v. nifsal. 56 This phrase originates in the Babylonian Talmud (Ta‘anit 28b, Beiṣa 4b). 57 Bhabha, The Location of Culture, 102. 58 Jer. 2:13 is part of the haftarah (additional reading) for the Shabbat of Maṭṭot-Mas‘ei, which was July 18, 1857, and Deut. 4 is part of the Torah reading for the Shabbat of Va’etḥannan, which was August 1, 1857. 59 Bhabha, The Location of Culture, 108. 60 On Muslim henna traditions in North Africa, see: M. Vonderheyden, “Le henné chez les Musulmans de l’Afrique du Nord” [Henna among the Muslims of North Africa], Journal de la Société des Africanistes 4, no. 1 (1934): 54-61. 61 Deut. 4:2.
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Intelligence with a similar perspective: he explains that rabbinic Judaism considers non-Jews excluded from any divine privileges or blessings, and argues that this goes against biblical theology. This “corroborates how far the rabbis have gone astray in their interpretation of God’s word, and how incompetent they are to judge of the concerns of religion. It was indeed reserved for Christianity to proclaim that revelation was for the world at large.”62 For Ginsburg, these Algerian Jews were practicing a distorted and corrupted form of Judaism, which was itself a weakened and distorted form of the perfection of Christianity. “This Excellent Opportunity”: Ginsburg and Shemini ʿAṣEret Ginsburg’s first encounter ends with failure: his interlocutor turns away, dismissing his missionary proclamation of the superiority of Christian and European culture over Algerian minhag. In the second half of the article, Ginsburg shifts to another brief story, which took place “the other evening—the eve of the feast of in-gathering, which is annexed to the feast of tabernacles, and called ‘shemini azereth’ (Exod.23.16).”63 The events of the second story mitigate the failure of Ginsburg’s first encounter, and bring his report to a triumphant conclusion. The second story begins with Ginsburg hearing music “more discordant that I ever heard before,” and discerns that it is “the voice of Jacob,”64 or Jews, celebrating the holiday. He enters the house—again, without permission or invitation—where he finds “a goodly number of women and children, huddled together on the ground in one part of the yard, and several men squeezed under a hut made of branches, in the other.” As with his description of the henna ceremony, the Jews he depicts are primitive, uncivilized discordant. Ginsburg describes the men as sitting in “a hut of branches,” without noting that this refers to the sukkah, a temporary booth built for the holiday of Sukkot, which Ashkenazi Jews also build as a biblical obligation. Through his selective use of biblical terminology, Ginsburg emphasizes the wild Otherness of the Algerian Jews. “The appearance … made me desire to withdraw; but the repeated voices of ‘Marhabo bick’ (Welcome) made my stay unavoidable,” he wrote.65 Ginsburg is both attracted and repelled by this scene, at the same time familiar and foreign. Unlike the henna ceremony, Ginsburg needs no explanation, and here he takes the role of authoritative narrator, not only naming the holiday but also directing the reader to the appropriate biblical passage.66 The men invite Ginsburg to join them and offer him a chair, but he writes that he preferred to “sit down à l’Arab” on the floor, like them. No longer watching from the edge of the room, Ginsburg has now moved to the centre, and he has allowed himself to become 62
James Baruch Ginsburg, “Correspondence: To the Editor of the Jewish Intelligence,” Jewish Intelligence, and Monthly Account of the Proceedings of the London Society For Promoting Christianity Among the Jews 17 (September 1877): 227-228. 63 Ginsburg, “Algeria,” 247. Hebrew shemini ʿaṣeret, “eighth [day of] assembly,” refers to a minor festival the day after the seventh day of Sukkot. 64 An allusion to Gen. 27:22, where Isaac recognizes Jacob’s voice even though he is disguised as Esau. 65 Ginsburg, “Algeria,” 247. 66 Although it should be noted that Exod. 23:16 actually refers only to Sukkot, “the feast of tabernacles.” Shemini ʿAṣeret itself is commanded in Lev. 23:36 and 39, and Num. 29:35.
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“à l’Arab.” No longer the aloof European, he would like us to believe that he now blends in.67 A conversation begins about the holiday, and Ginsburg discovers that “my friends were well instructed in religion—the Talmud and the Sohar [sic], but on the other hand, destitute of all knowledge of the gospel and the Messianic promises.” 68 Rather than immediately starting his lecture, Ginsburg begins by listening. Only after having appreciated that his interlocutors are well-instructed in Jewish text does he introduce his missionary agenda: “I took advantage, therefore, of this excellent opportunity to announce to them, they listening with undivided attention, the saving truths of the gospel of Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God.” At the henna ceremony, he is both unable to learn anything about Algerian Jewish minhag, and unsuccessful in engaging the participants in any kind of conversation. Here, in contrast, he succeeds in both respects. Ginsburg has learned to play to his strengths. His European Jewish background puts him at a disadvantage in trying to understand henna ceremonies and other minhagim, but he participates in discussions of canonical Jewish text on (close to) equal footing. Ginsburg was proud of his ability to mobilize Jewish textual knowledge, and correspondence from his later missionary work provides other similar stories of “beating rabbis at their own game” with his ability to argue from Jewish texts as well as the New Testament; he described one argument with a group of rabbis, where (as with the shamash) he attempts to show them “how they forsook God, the living fountain, for the traditions of men.”69 After a long discussion citing the Bible, Talmud, Kabbalah, and Midrashic literature, Ginsburg concludes with a triumphant citation from the book of Matthew 5:3; one rabbi leaves blushing with confusion, and another humbly returns to learn with Ginsburg, and they have “much and valuable conversation.”70 Here, too, in our narrative, the account ends as a missionary success story: the Jews listen “with undivided attention” to the saving gospel. Ginsburg’s report from his first year of missionary service in North Africa is consistent with the general trends of his work. His patronizing tone and tendency to lecture, rather than converse, continued to pose problems for his mission. R. Drummond Hay, the British consul at Mogador, wrote to Ginsburg to tell him that he stopped attending Ginsburg’s services due to the “extremely personal and unusually severe manner in which you address the congregation … I consider your language unnecessarily pointed 67
See Jagodzińska’s observations on LJS missionaries and their ‘penetration’ of Jewish space. “Christian Missionaries and Jewish Spaces: British Missions in the Kingdom of Poland in the First Half of the 19th Century,” in Space and Conversion in Global Perspective, eds. Giuseppe Marcocci et al. (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 103-126. 68 Ginsburg, “Algeria,” 247. 69 James Baruch Ginsburg, “Summary of Missionary Intelligence: Morocco,” Jewish Intelligence, and Monthly Account of the Proceedings of the London Society For Promoting Christianity Among Jews 17 (January 1877): 17. 70 Ibid., 18. This anecdotal genre is a common theme for missionary reports; compare, for example, the report of Rev. C. S. Newman, Ginsburg’s predecessor at the Constantinople Mission: “Summary of Missionary Intelligence: Constantinople,” Jewish Intelligence, and Monthly Account of the Proceedings of the London Society For Promoting Christianity Among the Jews 17 (April 1877): 89-92; and see Jagodzińska, “‘English Missionaries.’”
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and harsh, partaking more of the nature of Lectures than Sermons.”71 Ginsburg continued to balance his repulsion with the dirty, dark, backward, primitive North Africa (he calls Mogador a “miserable town” that produces only “sand, blackbeetles, and mosquitos”72) with his desire to identify with his North African co-religionists. Ginsburg’s position on the Jewish-Christian border remains ambiguous. It seems clear that he presented himself to Jews as a Christian (unlike other LJS missionaries, such as Joseph Wolff, who presented themselves as Jews when visiting Jewish communities in Central Asia), although it is not known to what degree Ginsburg continued to perform Jewish ritual practice.73 In 1867, Ginsburg took the post of president of the North Africa branch of the Hebrew Christian Alliance, an international organization headed by his old mentor Carl Schwartz. 74 During the conflict with the Jewish community in Morocco, Ginsburg was identified as an apikorus (heretic) by the Jewish community,75 which suggests they saw him as a lapsed Jew rather than a foreign Christian. However, Ginsburg also defended himself against charges from his Christian co-religionists that he was not a full Christian, writing in an 1880 screed that he faced rumours that “my ‘religion’ was different from that of the Consul, and consequently from that of Great Britain ... [The rumour was] that I had come to Morocco to preach the tenets of a totally new creed.”76 To counter this claim, in his book he repeatedly emphasizes his credentials as an ordained priest in the Church of England. But is this emphasis a way of distancing himself from his history as a Jew, or from his origin in Russia? His liminal position between Judaism and Christianity was only exacerbated by the confusion over his political status in Morocco as a Russian-born missionary working for a British organization, and he reminds us on the first page of his book that, “as I have never returned to Russia, I have lost all rights as a Russian subject.”77 But he did not abandon Judaism as thoroughly as he abandoned Russia; Ginsburg is able to sit in a sukkah, join in a festive meal and participate in conversation he ever-so-subtly steers toward a new text. This is the kind of slippage, which, as Naomi Seidman notes, characterizes both colonial and conversional narratives: “The literature of Jewish-Christian conversion is replete with the effects of mimicry, in which pious mimesis slips into (real or perceived) parody.”78 Ginsburg cannot escape the perpetual effects and interference of the boundaries he inhabits, “the ‘small difference,’ or, to use a translation term, ‘remainder,’ that persists 71
Ginsburg, “An Account,” 6-7. Emphasis in original. Ibid., 5 73 There was great variation across the Hebrew-Christian movement on the issue of what might be termed “the persistence of minhag”; some saw their Christian faith as more important than their ethnic origins, becoming completely acculturated into Christian society, while others identified most strongly with their unique position as Hebrew Christians. See: Darby, The Emergence of the Hebrew Christian Movement, 254. 74 Abraham Benoliel, “Hebrew Christian Alliance,” The Scattered Nation, Past, Present, and Future, vol. 3 (London: Elliot Stock, 1868), 28. 75 Bashan, The Anglican Mission, 155-156. 76 Ginsburg, An Account, 8. 77 Ibid., 3. 78 Seidman, Faithful Renderings, 145. 72
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beyond the conversion—as irreversible circumcision, as ineradicable accent, as the persistent memory and textual production of Jewishness.”79 His Ashkenazi background prevents him from reading the henna ceremony as a potential site of Jewishness, thus weakening his authority as a representative of a superior spiritual knowledge. His Christian beliefs disrupt his attempts at co-existence with his Jewish “co-religionists,” but also turn a hospitable Sukkot meal into an opportunity to preach the Gospel. Meanwhile, behind his successful mission in North Africa lurks the shadow of his Russian-Jewish past, threatening to disrupt (as it eventually does) his performance as a representative of British-Christian civilization. The navigation of categories and boundaries in his narrative points us to a deeper understanding of the instability, heterogeneity and richness of a life lived on the borders. Appendix Church of England Magazine (March 1858), 246-47
Jewish Miscellanies Algeria—Marriage Ceremony—Feast of the In-gathering— Constantina, Sept., 1857: “One afternoon, on quitting my lodgings, my attention was arrested by a little group of four Jewish females, one of them carrying a plate filled with ‘henna,’ in the midst of which was a lighted tallow candle, surrounded with eggs. This extraordinary phenomenon, I thought, must be a religious ceremony. I therefore stopped to see the proceedings. Adother [sic] Jewess, with a child in her arms, arrived, and putting her hand to her chin, she uttered three loud shrieks, as a signal for the little company, headed by an old Jew, to march on. Before reaching the end of the journey, the female crier repeated her clamorous and frightful gesticulations three times, and, when she uttered the last and longest, the constantlyaugmenting train stopped. A small windowless but nicely-carpeted and illuminated cottage, was here arranged to receive the company, who, leaving their sandals outside, walked barefooted, and with uncovered arms, into the hut, and seated themselves on the floor. A strict silence was observed, and ‘quahna’ [sic] 80 was preparing outside. One of the attendants, observing me gazing with the curiosity of a novice, came forward, and said, ‘Ovaïn rajah?’ I replied with another question in Hebrew, ‘Ma zott?’ As she did not seem to understand me, she rejoined, ‘Marhabo bick’ (Thou art welcome to look). In the mean time two gaily-dressed Jewesses (one appeared to be about seventeen and the other thirteen years of age), almost enveloped in chaplets, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and chains, their eyebrows blackened with kehol, and their fingers and toe-nails coloured red with the above-named henna, approached us, the younger being the bride, and her companion the bridesmaid. They were ceremoniously received, and seated in the centre of the room. After a pause, the bridesmaid began to wash [sic] the bride’s hair with henna, which turned it red in an 79 80
Seidman, Faithful Renderings, 144. Likely a misprint for “quahua,” i.e. qahwa, or “coffee.”
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instant; and it was to retain the colour, and remain in a dishevelled condition for eight days, at the end of which the rabbi would perform the religious ceremony of the marriage, which had already been performed by the civil authorities. During this ‘minhag’ the bride’s relations and friends cried bitterly; and the rest talked and laughed loudly. When all was over, I asked the shamash, ‘What does all this signify?’ ‘I do not know.’ ‘Have you a bible?’ ‘I have a pentateuch.’ ‘Have you read it?’ ‘O, yes.’ ‘Do you remember what Moses said?’ Taking out my bible, I read to him Deuteronomy iv.1-8, and asked him if he thought that the Gentiles, seeing the hideous gestures of the crier and the washing of the hair, would exclaim, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and an understanding people; and what nation has such wonderful statutes or so wonderful a service as this people?’ Or would they not exclaim, ‘It is a people of no understanding. It is a people who have their understanding darkened, because they have committed two evils: they have forsaken him, the Fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.’ ‘It is a minhag,’ he replied, and, shrugging his shoulders, he took leave. The other evening—the eve of the feast of in-gathering, which is annexed to the feast of tabernacles, and called ‘shemini azereth’ (Exod.xxiii.16)—passing the Jewish quarter, I heard some music, more discordant that I ever heard before. I stopped to listen, and soon distinguished the voice of Jacob. I took French leave, and entered the court, when I met a goodly number of women and children, huddled together on the ground in one part of the yard, and several men squeezed under a hut made of branches, in the other. The latter had a cloth spread on a square piece of wood, and a lamp suspended over it; while the former were quite in the dark, and had their dishes on their laps, with their legs crossed. The men were singing, the women chattering and laughing, and the children screaming. The appearance of this scene made me desire to withdraw; but the repeated voices of ‘Marhabo bick’ made my stay unavoidable. My hospitable brethren wished to get a chair; but I preferred to sit down à l’Arab. Discussion began about the nature and prayers of these festivals; and I soon discovered that my friends were well instructed in religion—the Talmud and the Sohar [sic], but on the other hand, destitute of all knowledge of the gospel and the Messianic promises. I took advantage, therefore, of this excellent opportunity to announce to them, they listening with undivided attention, the saving truths of the gospel of Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God.” (Correspondence of the rev. J. B. Grosberg [sic], on a mission from the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews). Bibliography Alcalay, Ammiel. After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1993. Allouche-Benayoun, Joëlle. “The Rites of Water for the Jewish Women of Algeria: Representations and Meanings.” In Women and Water: Menstruation in Jewish Life and Law, edited by Rahel Wasserfall, 198-216. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 1999.
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American Bible Society. Illustration of the Different Languages and Dialects in which the Holy Bible in Whole or in Part has been Printed and Circulated. Columbian Exposition, 1893. Ariel, Yaacov. Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 1880-2000. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. Attal, Robert. Les missions protestantes anglicanes en Afrique du Nord et leurs publications en judéo-arabe à l'intention des Juifs [Protestant Anglican Missions in North Africa and their Judeo-Arabic Publications Aimed at Jews] Revue des Études Juives 132 (1973): 95-118. Bashan, Eliezer. Jewish Women in Morocco: Seen Through Letters from 1733-1905. Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University, 2005. ——. The Anglican Mission and the Jews of Morocco in the 19th Century. Ramat Gan: BarIlan University, 1999. Ben-Ami, Issachar. Le mariage traditionnel chez les Juifs marocains [The Traditional Marriage among Moroccan Jews]. In Studies in Marriage Customs, edited by Issachar Ben-Ami and Dov Noy, 9-116. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1974. Ben-Hur (Haddad), Ephraim. Minhagei ḥatuna beJerba [Wedding Customs of Djerba] Yeda-‘Am 10, no. 28 (1964): 34-38. Benoliel, Abraham. “Hebrew Christian Alliance.” In The Scattered Nation, Past, Present, and Future, vol. 3. London: Elliot Stock, 1868. Bernstein, Aaron. Some Jewish Witnesses for Christ. London: Operative Jewish Converts’ Institution, 1909. Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. London: Taylor and Francis, 1994. Bliss, Edwin Munsell. The Encyclopedia of Missions: Descriptive, Historical, Biographical, Statistical. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1904. Boyarin, Daniel. Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. Briggs, Lloyd Cabot, and Norina Lami Guède. No More Forever: A Saharan Jewish Town. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum, 1964. Cohen, David. Le parler arabe des juifs de Tunis, vol. I: Textes et documents linguistiques et ethnographiques [Spoken Arabic of Tunisian Jews, vol. I: Linguistic and Ethnogrpahic Texts and Documents]. Paris: Mouton, 1964. Cohn-Sherbok, Dan. Messianic Judaism. London: Cassell, 2000. Darby, Michael. The Emergence of the Hebrew Christian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Leiden: Brill, 2010. Darʿi, Yehuda. Haḥatuna hayehudit baqehilot kefariyyot: minhagei nissu’in b’Ighil n- Ughu [Jewish Marriage in Rural Communities: wedding customs in Ighil n-Ughu]. In Haḥatuna hayehudit hamesoratit baMaroqo [The Jewish Traditional Marriage in Morocco], edited by Joseph Chetrit, 553-558. Haifa: University of Haifa, 2003. de le Roi, Johannes Friedrich Alexander. Die evangelische Christenheit und die Juden [Evangelical Christianity and the Jews, vol. 3]. Berlin: H. Reuther, 1892. Gidney, William Thomas. The history of the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, from 1809 to 1908. London: London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, 1908.
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Ginsburg, James Baruch. “Algeria—Marriage Ceremony—Feast of the In-gathering.” Church of England Magazine: under the superintendence of the Clergymen of the United Church of England and Ireland 44 (1858): 246-247. ——. An Account of the Persecution of the Protestant Mission among the Jews at Mogador, Morocco. London: Edward G. Allen, 1880. ——. “Correspondence: To the Editor of the Jewish Intelligence.” Jewish Intelligence, and Monthly Account of the Proceedings of the London Society For Promoting Christianity Among the Jews, 17 (September 1877): 227-229. ——. “Summary of Missionary Intelligence: Morocco.” Jewish Intelligence, and Monthly Account of the Proceedings of the London Society For Promoting Christianity Among the Jews 17 (January 1877): 16-18. Goldberg, Harvey. The Book of Mordechai: A Study of the Jews of Libya. Selections from the “Highid Mordekhai” of Mordechai Hakohen. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1980. ——, ed. Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries: History and Culture in the Modern Era. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1996. Groves, Charles Pelham. The Planting of Christianity in Africa, Vol. 3: 1878-1914. London: Lutterworth Press, 1955. Haddad, Boʿaz. Sefer Jerba Yehudit [The Book of Jewish Djerba]. Jerusalem: Beit haOtzar haIvri, 1980. Halsted, Thomas. Our Missions: a History of the Principal Missionary Transactions of the London Society Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews. London: William Macintosh, 1866. Hassani-Idrissi, Mostafa. Aspects peu connus de la vie sociale des Juifs d’Essaouira: la mission protestante de J. B. C. Ginsburg et ses repercussions (1875-1886) [Less-Known Aspects of the Social Life of the Jews of Essaouira: the Protestant Mission of J. B. C. Ginsburg and its Repercussions]. In Juifs du Maroc: identité et dialogue [The Jews of Morocco: Identity and Dialogue]. 167-174. Saint-Étienne: La Pensée Sauvage, 1978. Hechler, Dietrich. “Mülhausen: Letter from Rev. D. Hechler.” Jewish Intelligence 22 (April 1856): 119-21. Heggøy, Willy Normann. Fifty Years of Evangelical Missionary Movement in North Africa, 1881-1931. PhD diss., Hartford Seminary, 1960. Jagodzińska, Agnieszka. “Christian Missionaries and Jewish Spaces: British Missions in the Kingdom of Poland in the First Half of the 19th Century.” In Space and Conversion in Global Perspective, edited by Giuseppe Marcocci, Wietse De Boer, Aliocha Maldavsky, and Ilaria Pavan, 103-126. Leiden: Brill, 2015. ——. “‘English Missionaries’ Look at Polish Jews: The Value and Limitations of Missionary Reports as Source Material.” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry 27 (2014): 89-116. ——. “‘For Zion's Sake I Will Not Rest’: The London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews and its 19th-Century Missionary Periodicals.” Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, 82, no. 2 (2013): 381-387. Laskier, Michael Menachem, Sara Reguer, and Haim Saadoun. “Community Leadership and Structure.” In The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times, edited
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by Reeva Spector Simon, Michael Menachem Laskier, and Sara Reguer, 49-64. Columbia University Press, 2002. Laskier, Michael Menachem. “Review of Eliezer Bashan, The Anglican Mission and Moroccan Jewry in the Nineteenth Century.” AJS Review 26, no. 1 (2002): 165-167. Malka, Elie. Essai d’ethnographie traditionnelle des Mellahs: ou croyances, rites de passage, et vieilles pratiques des Israélites marocains [An attempt at a traditional ethnography of the mellahs: or beliefs, passage rituals, and old customs of Moroccan Jews]. Rabat: Imprimerie Omnia, 1946. Meyer, Louis. Eminent Hebrew Christians of the nineteenth century: brief biographical sketches. Originally written 1903, edited by David Rausch. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983. National Archives. 1851 Census of England and Wales, folio 55, page 15. Kew: National Archives of the UK, Public Record Office, 1851. Newman, C. S. “Summary of Missionary Intelligence: Constantinople.” Jewish Intelligence, and Monthly Account of the Proceedings of the London Society For Promoting Christianity Among the Jews 17 (April 1877): 89-92. North, Eric McCoy. The Book of a Thousand Tongues: Being Some Account of the Translation and Publication of All or Part of the Holy Scriptures into More than a Thousand Languages and Dialects. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1938. Perry, Yaron. British Mission to the Jews in Nineteenth-Century Palestine. London: Frank Cass, 2003. Salah, Asher. “The Otherness of the Self: On Samuel Romanelli’s Travelogue.” European Journal of Jewish Studies 5 no. 2 (2011): 219-239. Schreier, Joshua. Arabs of the Jewish Faith: The Civilizing Mission in Colonial Algeria. Rutgers: Rutgers University Press, 2010. Seidman, Naomi. Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Sephiha, Haïm Vidal. “‘Christianisms’ in Judeo-Spanish (Calque and Vernacular).” In Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages, edited by Joshua Fishman, 179-194. Leiden: Brill, 1985. Sharaby, Rachel. “The Bride’s Henna Ritual: Symbols, Meanings and Changes.” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues 11 (2006): 11-42. Sharp, John. The Gospel in Many Tongues. London: British and Foreign Bible Society, 1912. Simon, Reeva Spector, Michael Menachem Laskier, and Sara Reguer, eds. The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. Stillman, Norman. Sephardi Religious Responses to Modernity. Luxembourg: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1995. Thompson, Albert Edward. A Century of Jewish Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1902. Vonderheyden, M. Le henné chez les Musulmans de l’Afrique du Nord [Henna among the Muslims of North Africa] Journal de la Société des Africanistes 4, no. 1 (1934): 35-61.
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Wasserfall, Rahel. “Community, Fertility, and Sexuality: identity formation among Moroccan Jewish immigrants.” In Women and Water: Menstruation in Jewish Life and Law, edited by Rahel Wasserfall, 187-197. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 1999. Wilkinssohn, Samuel Hinds. The Life of John Wilkinssohn, the Jewish Missionary. London: Morgan and Scott, 1908. Zuckermann, Ghil‘ad. “‘Etymythological Othering’ and the Power of ‘Lexical Engineering’ in Judaism, Islam and Christianity: A Socio-Philo(sopho)logical Perspective.” In Explorations in the Sociology of Language and Religion, edited by Tope Omoniyi and Joshua Fishman, 237-258. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006.
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BETWEEN UTOPIA AND DESTRUCTION: THE MAKING OF “JAZZ RHAPSODY ON SOVIET JEWISH THEMES” NOAM LEMISH University of Toronto _______________
azz Rhapsody on Soviet Jewish Themes” is an original composition for jazz quartet (soprano saxophone, piano, bass, drums) based on two very different songs by Soviet Jewish composers. The first is “Lullaby,” composed by Isaac Dunayevsky for Gregori Aleksandrov’s 1936 film Circus, and the second is “Der verter un di shtern” (“Merit and Stars”), a Yiddish song by an unknown author from an unpublished collection dating back to 1942.1 In composing “Jazz Rhapsody,” I leaned heavily on these sources. But in my rendering, their themes undergo a series of transformations—appearing and re-appearing in a variety of ways, while new material inspired by these themes is presented in connecting sections or in a superimposed, integrated and layered fashion. The result is a piece that is both steeped in and true to the source material. Yet it is unquestionably a new work, with its own unfolding narrative and unique language. The critical dimension of this project, as I originally conceived it, involves an interaction (and internalization) of musical styles gleaned from Soviet Jewish culture. In writing this piece, I blended the Soviet Jewish sources with my own musical world—encompassing jazz, classical and Israeli sounds—thus creating a highly non-traditional and personal piece. I reflect on this process through the five excerpts that follow. Both “Lullaby” and “Der verter” spoke to me musically, sparked my imagination and inspired me to generate musical content that satisfied my artistic expectations. Ironically, the songs are not an obvious pair. The two pieces were written only a few years apart but their messages could not be more disparate. They offer extreme thematic contrasts: one speaks about hope and the utopian ideal, the other loss, destruction and revenge. “Lullaby” presents a Soviet Union in which ethnic and racial divisions are transcended by social egalitarianism; in Circus, representatives from the Soviet Union’s ethnic groups each sing a verse. (Still, a dark cloud hangs over the cheery socialist message: one of the actors who 1
I first heard of “Der verter” from Anna Shternshis, an associate professor of Yiddish Studies at the University of Toronto, in winter 2015. Shternshis discovered the song while working in the Manuscript Department of the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, document call number B2509. Shternshis is leading an ongoing project to bring to life previously lost Soviet Yiddish music called “Defending the Motherland: Lost Yiddish Songs from WWII in the Soviet Union.”
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performed “Lullaby” in Circus was Solomon Mikhoels, the great Soviet Jewish actor murdered by the state twelve years after the film’s release.2) The unknown Jewish composer of “Der verter,” a vengeful piece about slaughtering Germans, likely perished in the Holocaust. The song, which is reminiscent of klezmer, Balkan and Roma dance music, was never published, perhaps after failing to win approval from Soviet censors.3 Both pieces evoke worlds that have been lost: in “Lullaby,” an imagined utopia that never existed; in “Der verter,” a legacy of culture, art and music that was destroyed during the Holocaust. With “Jazz Rhapsody,” I endeavor to recover these lost worlds. These songs, along with their emotional soundscapes, have come back to life inside of me and hopefully in the listeners of my music.
Birgit Beumers, A History of Russian Cinema (Oxford: Berg, 2009), 108. Anna Shternshis, in discussion with the author, March 2015.
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Listen to “Jazz Rhapsody on Soviet Jewish Themes” Recorded April 14, 2015 at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music Noam Lemish … piano Anthony Argatoff … soprano saxophone Nick Arseneau … acoustic bass Andrew Miller … drums Jeff Deegan … recording engineer
Listen to “Der verter un di shtern” Record April 14, 2015 at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music Noam Lemish … piano
Listen to “Lullaby”
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œ & 44 bœ b œœ ? 44 6
œ bœ œ b œ œ bœ bœ œ ˙ wœ œ ˙ ˙œ bœ œ b ˙bœ œ b˙˙ bœ bœœ b œœ b ˙œœ b œœ œ˙ b ˙ b œ b œ˙ b ˙ ˙ n œ bb ˙ b ˙ b œ bb œ b œœ œ ˙ n˙ œ œ œ bœ bœ œ bœ bœ œ bœ bœ
& bœ n œœœœ b˙ œœ n œœœ bœbœœnœbœœ b n œ bb œœ bn ˙œœ œ nœ bœbbœbœœ nœœ ? nœœ bœ ˙ œ bœ b œ œbb œœ b œ bœ
bœ bœ œ bœ ˙˙ œ˙ bœJ œ™ ˙˙ bœœbœœ œœb œœ b ˙œ bœ bœ œbœ™ bœj ˙ œ nœ œ œn ˙ ˙ b˙ n˙
& <b> œœ n œ nnœ˙ bœ œ œ œœ œ b œ˙ bœ œœœ bœœœ nb œb˙œ nbœœnb ˙˙˙ <b> nœ b ˙˙ j b œ j ? b<b>œœ ˙ bœ nœœ ‰ bœ ‰ bnœœbbœœ œ œ bœw œ ˙ b œ b˙ œ
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“Jazz Rhapsody” begins (m. 1–12) by presenting a solemn rendition of the portion of “Lullaby” sung by Solomon Mikhoels. The melody of “Lullaby” is the top voice in the piano part above. The melody itself appears mostly unchanged, with slight variation and embellishment compared to the original. The mood, however, is drastically different. In Circus, “Lullaby” is filled with hope, warmth and acceptance. The version I created—stark, hesitating, deliberate, and dissonant—reflects pain, mourning and grief. My chorale-style, four-part texture contracts and expands in terms of density, yet maintains a reserved manner. The hope and utopia foreseen by Dunayevsky and Mikhoels has been turned, nearly eighty years later, into grief for hope lost and nostalgia for a future that never existed. Indeed, the opening twelve measures present more questions than answers. I cannot say that I thought of all these dimensions when writing this first section of the piece, only that I was unconsciously drawn to these realms. What was conscious was a desire to imbue the song with a much greater degree of dissonance, referencing the irony embedded in the gap between the song’s utopian vision and depiction of Soviet society, and the reality of life in the Soviet Union at that exact time and in the years that followed.
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nœ ? ™™ nœ œ bœ bœ œ
œ œ œ œ
œ œ bœ bœ œ œ
œ œ œ œ
? œ œbœbœ œ œ œ œ œbœ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœbœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ ˙™
œ œbœbœ œ œ œ œ œbœ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœbœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ ˙ ™
? bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ bœ bœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ ˙ ?
bœ œ œ œ œ œbœ œ œ œbœbœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œbœ œ ˙
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As mentioned previously, I pursued this project with the idea of creating a new work that leaned heavily on my sources while simultaneously integrating my own musical background to create a hybrid piece. This process of integration is constant throughout the work, as the thematic source material never appears “faithfully.” Furthermore, as part of the process of creating a coherent and convincing new work, it was necessary to create completely new themes and ideas (still influenced by and relating to the sources but not directly quoting or referencing either theme). This process appears for the first time in measures 13–32 with what I can only describe as a blend of sound worlds that is fairly representative of my own language as a jazz composer.
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œ & bœœ ˙˙ b ? ˙ 37
œ ‰ œœ J ˙˙ ˙
œ ‰ œœ J ˙˙ ˙
bœ œ ‰ bœœ bœœ J œœ ™™ œœ bœ™ œ J
bœ ‰ bœœ bœœœ J œœ ™™™ bœ w
œ ‰ œœ J ˙˙ ˙
œœ œœ œœ œ œ œ œœ ™™™ œœ œ œ J ˙
œœ œœ œœœ œ œ j œœ œœ ™™™ œœj œ œ œ ∑
œ œ bœ & bœœ œœ nbœœ ˙˙ b ? ˙ w
œ œ bœ & bœœ œœ nbœœ ˙˙ b ? ˙ w
œœ n b œœ œ bœ
bœ ‰ bœœ bœœœ J œœ ™™™ bœ w
œœ œœ œœœ œ œ j œœ œœ ™™™ œœj œ œ œ
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The beautiful melody of “Der verter” appears for the first time in the saxophone part starting at measure 35. Its nature is transformed, and its appearance slightly disguised, by a two compositional techniques. First, rather than appearing as fast eighth notes (as in the original version) it is played much slower. Instead of adhering to the precise formal and metric structure of the song in its original version, the rhythmic placement shifts so that while it approximates the general rhythmic ratio in the original, it is transformed to fit the piano pattern underneath. The piano part creates a repetitive rhythmic pattern—an ostinato in musical terms. The goal is to create a whirlwind of sound—a full, thick texture. This two-measure pattern is rhythmically complex, yet harmonically stable. Second, in addition to manipulating the melody I also use a layering technique called textural superimposition. While the two textures (as represented by saxophone and piano) fit together well, they each evoke different metric and phrasing realities. The piano part works in two-measure phrases, but the saxophone part has phrases of varying length that sometimes blend and sometimes clash with the piano’s consistent phrasing. Although the saxophone part works in the 4/4 meter of the piano, its phrasing feels as though it belongs to a different metric world. The intended effect creates the sense that two different musical realities, or layers, are operating simultaneously. These layers can be listened together or separately. But ultimately, resolving this ambiguity is up to the listener. One can interpret the slow-moving “Der verter” melody as again portraying a deep sense of loss. In the context of two separate musical universes layered one on top of the other, the listener can imagine “Der verter” and its “suspended reality” as an invocation of memory, a musical memory of a time and a world that was destroyed and is now lost.
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EXAMPLE FOUR LISTEN
bœ ™ œ™
& ™™43 bœœ ™™ B¨‹7
& b œ™ b ˙˙ ™™
& b ˙œ™ ˙ ™™
& ™™ V
bœ ˙ bbœœœ G¨7
& b ˙œ™ ˙ ™™
& œ œ ‰ œJ œ nœ œ bœ ˙ œ
œ bœ bœ œ
‰ nœ bœ bœ
bœ ‰ œ œ œ bœ bœ ˙ & œ J F‹/A¨
˙™ bb ˙˙ ™™
œ bœ bœ bœ œ œ ™ œ œ œ ™ J C7
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Here we see another iteration of thematic material originating in “Lullaby,” this time in the form of a jazz waltz. Compared to its first solemn appearance at the beginning of “Jazz Rhapsody,” this version of “Lullaby” is substantially more upbeat. Again, it takes the original version of the song and transports it to a very different musical realm. This is accomplished by way of harmonic and rhythmic manipulations. Furthermore, in rehearsal mark F, we see a melodic variation on the theme even more directly imbued with jazz sensibilities, eventually leading to an improvised piano solo in a jazz-waltz style. My invocation of African American jazz tradition reflects my own training and musical tastes, but also serves as subtle commentary on the ambivalent relationship Soviet composers had with African American music. Along with Leonid Utesov and Alexander Tsfasman, Isaac Dunayevsky was one of the leading proponents of jazz in the Soviet Union.4 Throughout Circus, as well as in other films, Dunayevsky references the distinctly African American world of jazz. In Circus, this is most clear when a black character sings a section of “Lullaby.” Despite a brief period of approval by the Soviet regime from 1932 to 1936, proponents and practitioners of jazz suffered through lengthy periods of repression. Jazz was seen as a bourgeois art form, a corruptive and corrosive manifestation of decadence and capitalism. While Circus suggests that the Soviet Union was free of racism and a bastion of ethnic equality, public debates among intellectuals, and the prevalent opinions of well– known classical composers, including Dmitri Shostakovich, reveal that the Soviets were unwilling to accept jazz because of its African American origins.5 Still, jazz held immense appeal to leading musicians and composers, such as Dunayevsky. By invoking jazz references in “Jazz Rhapsody,” I reaffirm this connection and emphasize its unambivalent importance in the life and music of Dunayevsky and his contemporaries.
See Frederick Starr, Red and Hot: The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union, 1917–1991 (New York: Limelight Editions, 1994). For a discussion of Tsfasman and Utesov, see 130–156. 5 Ibid. It should be noted that jazz faced similar charges around the world. In capitalist countries, objections to the form derived from racially charged fears centreing around the “corrupting dangers” of its “sexual and primal” nature. In the 1910s and 1920s, the emergence of jazz challenged Victorian social mores. See Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988).
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& ™™ ˙
‰ bœ J
j œ bœ
VV V VV V V VV V VV VV V VVV V VV
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The saxophone returns (see rehearsal mark G) after the piano solo with a more direct quote of “Der verter.” This second rendition of the melody closely resembles the original version of the song but it is transformed in two distinct ways. First, the melody’s rhythm is dramatically altered to incorporate a swing feel, thus fitting idiomatically with the jazz waltz. Second, instead of the simple chord progression that the melody implies, I have reharmonized the tune with material that blends Western classical music and jazz sensibilities. This section pours into an improvised saxophone solo that again evokes the harmony of “Der Verter.” The entire jazz waltz section of the piece provides the greatest integration of the two themes. Within this contemporary jazz framework, the melodic and harmonic features of both “Lullaby” and “Der verter” intersect and blend to such an extent that the listener cannot distinguish them fully. The two songs have become one, and their fusion has yielded an entirely new piece. After the conclusion of the saxophone solo we have a return to and repeat of previous material, creating a bookend effect. We return to the material of measure 25, following a path through several of the sections discussed earlier. To close the piece, we return to where we started: the slow, painfully dissonant and mournful expression of Mikhoels’s part from “Lullaby” in Example One. Thus, in the overall structure of “Jazz Rhapsody” we hear the two themes come together to form something new and energetic. The layers of loss and grief, however, remain.
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CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: HATE CRIME LEGISLATION, PUBLIC OPINION POLLING AND THE JEWISH MINORITY IN POST-SOVIET RUSSIA ALEXIS LERNER1 University of Toronto _______________
rom the mainstream western perspective, the present reputation of the Russian Federation seems diminished, if not altogether scandalized. In 2013, the administration passed a controversial law criminalizing “homosexual propaganda” as well as a law that promises five-year sentences for protestors arrested more than once within 180 days. The ruble has been falling since late 2014 and, in February 2015, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was mysteriously assassinated near the Kremlin. News agencies and human rights organizations are blacklisted and raided. Censorship and xenophobia run rampant. Moreover, Russia’s actions abroad harm its international standing. On its western border, Russia is tenuously involved in an escalating military conflict in Ukraine. To the south, Russia maintains military-political control in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And, since 2013, Moscow has protected Edward Snowden, a former United States government contractor who leaked a trove of classified documents to international news outlets. Amid these domestic and international crises, dare scholars inquire into the status and treatment of Russia’s Jewish minority? When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Russians gained the freedom to organize, emigrate and participate in civil society. Anti-Semitic, nationalist and xenophobic factions also gained these freedoms and applied them liberally.2 While state-directed anti-Semitism decreased in the post-Soviet era, popular anti-Semitism arguably gained momentum. According to a survey conducted by Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, popular anti-Semitism in Russia reached a fifteen-year high in 2004. 3 The survey attributed the peak to heightened 1
This article was first written for an invited lecture at Wayne State University’s Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies, co-sponsored by the Wayne State University Humanities Center, in February 2014. I wish to thank Peter Solomon, Jeffrey Kopstein, Donald Schwartz, Josh Tapper, and Liza Futerman for their thoughtful comments and suggestions throughout the writing process. 2 Zvi Gitelman, “Introduction,” in Jewish Life After the USSR, ed. Gitelman, Musya Glants, and Marshall I. Goldman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 3. 3 “Study: Anti–Semitic Violence Hits 15-year High in 2004,” Haaretz, May 4, 2005.
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nationalism combined with Muslim marginalization, anti-Zionism, growing inequality, and long-standing anti-Jewish sentiment.4 The SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, a Moscow-based think tank focused on racism and nationalism, also identifies 2004 as a high point in Russian nationalism and anti-Semitism.5 This increase in anti-Jewish rhetoric and violent attacks coincided with an onslaught of literature and survey data on the phenomenon. Save the publications of political scientist Zvi Gitelman, an expert on Russian Jewry, the majority of scholarship on this topic tapers off by 2004. In response to this analytical pause, my article focuses on post-Soviet manifestations of anti-Semitism, in particular those of the years from 2005 to 2015. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum defines anti-Semitism as prejudice against or hatred of Jews.6 As Robert Wistrich, the late scholar of anti-Semitism, wrote in 2005: Though there is no agreed-upon consensus regarding theoretical definitions, antiSemitism is much easier to recognize in practice. The methods pursued by modern antiSemites have ranged from social ostracism to racist polemics in the press to advocating economic boycotts and restrictive academic quotas for Jews. They have turned at various times to mass political agitation, discriminatory legislation, violent pogroms, expulsion, and ultimately mass murder.7
With this definition in mind, I evaluate post-Soviet Russian sentiment toward Russian Jews according to two barometers: popular (“bottom-up”) disdain or mistrust, and, conversely, state-directed (“top-down”), seemingly philo-Semitic, actions and legislation. While anti-Semitic activity remains a concern in post-Soviet Russia, it has waned since 2004.8 The goal of this paper is to account for the past decade of both anti- and philoSemitism by reviewing opinion polls and hate crime legislation. The body of my paper is divided into three sections. Section one, “Who is a Jew in Russia?” attempts to define the terms “Jew” and “Jewishness” within the Russian context. This section summarizes Jewish life, anti-Semitism and identity formation in the Soviet and post-Soviet period. In section two, “Anti-Semitism From Below,” I compile and compare the results of recent opinion polls conducted by the Levada Center between 2010 4
Russian Jewish Congress, “Anti–Semitism in Russia in 2013,” January 23, 2014, http://help.rjc.ru/site.aspx?SECTIONID=85646&IID=2527868. 5 SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, “Anti–Semitism in Russia: Trends in 2004,” January 13, 2014, http://www.sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/antisemitism/articlesreports/2004/11/d2911/. 6 Holocaust Encylopedia, s.v. “Antisemitism,” http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005175. 7 Robert S. Wistrich, European Anti-Semitism Reinvents Itself (New York: American Jewish Committee, 2005), 15. 8 SOVA Center for Information and Analysis scholars Natalia Yudina and Vera Alperovich reinforce this claim when they write: “the Russian nationalist movement ‘has lost its voice,’” in Yudina and Alperovich, “Calm Before the Storm? Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract them in 2014,” SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, Moscow, April 21, 2015, http://www.sovacenter.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2015/04/d31818/.
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and 2013, and by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in its 2014 and 2015 “Global 100” surveys.9 I supplement this survey data with prejudice-motivated crime statistics compiled in the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry’s 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 reports on anti-Semitism,10 and the Moscow-based SOVA Center for Information and Analysis statistics from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.11 In section three, “From State-Sponsored Anti-Semitism to Judicial Protection,” I investigate not only the prevalence of anti-Semitic hate crimes but also judicial responses to these ethnically motivated acts. I conclude with a discussion of how latent yet dangerous stereotypes could reappear in light of Russia’s current crises. This paper by no means claims to be exhaustive, nor does it intentionally sidestep intolerance toward the region’s other minority groups; rather, I hope to contribute to an existing, albeit dated, discussion about tolerance and intolerance toward the Jewish minority in contemporary Russia. Anti-Semitism and Jewish Identity Following nearly seventy years of forced secularization and acculturation by a nominally atheistic Soviet state, the definition of Jewishness in contemporary Russia is difficult to pinpoint. In western countries, Jewish identity is often defined by the observance and practice of religious traditions, rituals and customs. Yet, as Gitelman has written, Russian Jews define their community as predominantly ethnic, based on shared ancestry, national identity and a common cultural-linguistic heritage.12 The reasons for the latter trace back to the early days of the Soviet Union; in the 1930s, individuals with two Jewish parents were required to identify themselves as Jews in the nationality section of their internal passport. For many, Jewishness became a disability, or a barrier to entry into social and political life.13 Even if Jews could not be identified based on obvious markers like religious observance, caricatured ridicule, racially based discrimination and lethal incarceration remain well documented. 14 But, as Gitelman notes, isolating classification policies also rendered a 9
According to the organization’s website, www.levada.ru, “The Levada-Center is a non–governmental research organization in the Russian Federation that has regularly conducted public polls, barometer studies and sociological research since 1988.” At the time of publication, the Levada Center’s most recent and available annual public opinion poll took place in 2012-2013. 10 Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and Moshe Kantor Program For The Study Of Antisemitism and Racism, Antisemitism Worldwide 2014: General Analysis, Draft, European Jewish Congress, 5, http://www.eurojewcong.org/docs/Doch2014_(130415).docx.pdf. The Kantor Center has expanded its 2014 report to include the anti-Semitic wave of attacks in France in January 2015. 11 The SOVA Center “conducts research and informational work on nationalism and racism, relations between the churches and secular society, and political radicalism.” See http://www.sova-center.ru/en/. 12 Zvi Gitelman, Jewish Identities in Postcommunist Russia and Ukraine: An Uncertain Ethnicity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 103-118. See Valeriy Chervyako, Zvi Gitelman, and Vladimir Shapiro, “Religion and Ethnicity: Judaism in the Ethnic Consciousness of Contemporary Russian Jews,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 20 no. 2 (1997). 13 Wistrich, European Anti-Semitism Reinvents Itself, 121. 14 Konstantin Azadovskii and Boris Egorov, “From Anti–Westernism to Anti-Semitism,” Journal of Cold War Studies 4, no. 1 (Winter): 66-80. See Yaacov Ro’i, ed., Jews and Jewish Life in Russia and the Soviet Union, (Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1995).
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positive outcome: they effectively prevented Jews from assimilating, thereby preserving informal networks and relations within the minority group.15 Perestroika reforms of the late 1980s ameliorated the situation for Russian Jewry, as it did for most Soviet citizens. As Daniel Elazar writes: Perestroika enabled hundreds of grassroots organizations to appear as if from nowhere. State-directed anti-Semitism disappeared as rapidly as Jewish organizations appeared, and unofficial contacts with foreign Jews and others resumed. Jewish newspapers, magazines, and books were published. In just two years [1988-1989], two hundred and four Jewish cultural, athletic, and religious organizations sprang up in seventy-seven Soviet cities.16
As the Soviet Union collapsed, government anti-Semitism—in the form of emigration quotas, anti-Semitic propaganda, tensions with Israel, and religious censorship—faded. By 1997, authorities removed the ethnicity line from registration documents, and, by 1998, Russians were no longer required to indicate ethnicity on birth and death documents.17 Of course, by 2006, 1.5 million Russian Jews had emigrated to Israel, North America and Europe, which meant that only a significantly reduced Jewish population actually experienced these new freedoms (in 1970, the Jewish population of the Soviet Union was just over 2.1 million; by 1989, that number dropped to just under 1.5 million).18 As of December 2015, Jewish day schools are free to teach Jewish culture, language and religion without major interference.19 International Jewish organizations, including Hillel, the Joint Distribution Committee, Moishe House, and the Jewish Agency are active across Russia. Political bodies such as the Va’ad, the Russian Jewish Congress and the Euro-Asian Congress openly advocate for Jewish issues at home and abroad. Moreover, the Jewish 15
Zvi Gitelman, “Jewish Identity and Secularism in Post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine,” in Religion or Ethnicity? Jewish Identities in Evolution, ed. Zvi Gitelman (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009), 243. This point also reinforced in Robert Brym and Rozalina Ryvkina, Russian Jewry Today: A Sociological Profile (Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University, 1996), 11, 17. 16 Daniel Elazar, Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1995), 13. 17 This actually posed an issue for Russian Jewry as some needed this line in order to prove Jewish identity so that they could immigrate to Israel. See Mark Tolts, “Sources for the Demographic Study of the Jews in the Former Soviet Union,” in The Social Scientific Study of Jewry: Sources, Approaches, Debates, ed. Uzi Rebhun (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 160-177. 18 Mark Tolts, “Post-Soviet Aliyah and Jewish Demographic Transformation,” (paper presented at the 15th World Congress of Jewish Studies Conference, Jerusalem, 2009), http://bjpa.org/Publications/downloadPublication.cfm?PublicationID=11924; Mark Tolts, “Jewish Emigration from the Soviet Union since the 1970s Reaches Nearly Two Million People,” Demoskope Weekly, no. 497-98 (February 2012), http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2012/0497/tema01.php; Tolts, “Sources for the Demographic Study of the Jews in the Former Soviet Union,” 170. 19 One contrary example is a recent case in June 2015, when Russian authorities confiscated Chabad school textbooks on account of their alleged anti-Russian content. See “Russian Prosecutors Confiscate Chabad Jewish School’s Textbooks,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 3, 2015, http://www.jta.org/2015/06/03/arts-entertainment/russian-prosecutors-confiscate-chabad-jewish-schooltextbooks.
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community receives broad support from the Kremlin through President Vladimir Putin’s public relationship with Berel Lazar, a Chabad Lubavitch emissary and Russia’s putative chief rabbi. As demographer and statistician Mark Tolts suggests, the unusual sight of a Kremlin boss standing alongside an ultra-Orthodox rabbi seems to have ended Russia’s “long practice of an official stance of anti-Semitism.” 20 The Russian president even committed one month of his salary to the establishment of Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in 2012.21 But how do ordinary Jews feel? According to Tolts, the number of self-identified Jews in Russia dropped to 157,763 in October 2010 from approximately 233,600 in 2005.22 He notes that an additional 42,000 Jews likely falsified their response because they were hesitant to disclose their identity in census documents.23 According to surveys conducted by Robert Brym and Rozalina Ryvkina in 1997 and 1998, about two-thirds of Jews older than fifty pointed to anti-Semitism as the most important factor influencing their Jewish identity.24 Meanwhile, two-thirds of those aged sixteen to thirty reject the claim that antiSemitism defines their Jewish identity. 25 Brym and Ryvkina’s surveys also show that contemporary Russian Jews define their Jewishness as being proud of one’s Jewish nationality, defending Jewish honor and dignity, not hiding one’s identity, and remembering the Holocaust.26 Factors such as giving children a Jewish education, sharing Zionist ideals, knowing a Jewish language, attending synagogue, and observing Shabbat or keeping kosher did not register as important for surveyed Russian Jews.27 Thus, in the postSoviet era, much like in Soviet times, Jewish identity continues to be defined largely by identification and less so by participation. With positive experiences at Jewish summer camps and schools, and the ease of entry into Russian social, cultural and political life, young post-Soviet Jews might feel more optimistic about their Jewish future than their parents or grandparents, who suffered through the restrictions and persecutions of the Soviet era. Perhaps these positive associations with Jewish identity also explain why younger people claim to experience less anti-Semitism in Russia. Anti-Semitism “From Below” Twenty-two-year-old Sasha R. holds Russian and Israeli passports, a full-time job at a Jewish political non-profit, and the freedom to celebrate Shabbat in downtown Moscow. 20
Tolts, “Sources for the Demographic Study of the Jews in the Former Soviet Union,” 130. Alexis Zimberg, “Free state: Moscow’s Jewish Museum and its Quest for an Open Society,” Calvert Journal, May 13, 2014, http://calvertjournal.com/comment/show/2487/moscow-jewish-museum-appealrussian-tolerance. 22 Tolts, “Sources for the Demographic Study of the Jews in the Former Soviet Union,” 170. 23 Ibid, 170. See also Gregg Rickman, Hating the Jews: The Rise of Antisemitism in the 21st Century (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2012), 126. 24 Brym and Ryvkina, Russian Jewry Today, table 11. 25 Mark Tolts, “Demography of the Jews in the Former Soviet Union: Yesterday and Today,” in Jewish Life After the USSR, 198-99. Specifically, Tolts writes that only one-third of young Jews in Russia acknowledge the impact of anti-Semitism on their Jewish identity. 26 Brym and Ryvkina, Russian Jewry Today, Survey Data, table 6. 27 Ibid., table 6. 21
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At a dinner organized by Moishe House, an international organization that sponsors communal living for Jewish young adults, Sasha sings traditional Jewish songs and sips kosher vodka that he bought in a corner liquor store. Despite these religious, associational and political freedoms, the Moscow resident bemoans Russian intolerance for its Jewish minority when he states: “Inclusion isn’t really a thing in Russia.” 28 Perhaps Sasha is correct: not everyone in Russia advocates for tolerance. After all, thirty percent of Russian adults surveyed in a 2014 ADL report expressed anti-Semitic views.29 In 2015, this number dropped to twenty three percent, or the equivalent of twenty-seven million adult respondents, indicating a high, albeit lessening inclination toward anti-Semitic sentiment in Russia.30 The Levada Center’s annual public opinion survey reinforces these results; the percentage of surveyed Russian adults that wanted to restrict the number of Jews living in Russia fluctuated from fifteen percent in 2004 to eight percent in 2011 and back up to ten percent in 2012. 31 These figures demonstrate—with general consistency—persistent intolerance. Yes, popular anti-Semitism lingers in contemporary Russia. So-called “bottom-up” anti-Semitism manifests in several ways, including privately or publicly held stereotypes, hiring prejudices and street violence. In a 2010 Levada Center survey, only twenty-seven percent of Russians said they would be willing to deal with Jews as inhabitants of Russia. In that same survey, seventeen percent of Russians approved of Jews staying temporarily in Russia. While these numbers might seem low, even fewer respondents wanted Jews in their immediate circle: only three percent of those surveyed approved of having a Jew as a close friend and two percent of those surveyed would welcome a Jew as a family member. Seventeen percent of those surveyed that said they would not let Jews in Russia at all.32 Still, the number of reported crimes influenced by anti-Semitism remains low as compared to the recent past. Reported cases of anti-Semitism in Russia are also lower than in three European Union countries: France, Greece and Hungary.33 According to a 2012 28
Sasha R., interview by Alexis Lerner, Moscow, Russia, December 2013. In Russia, this is the equivalent of 35 million adults. According to the survey, one had to answer in support of anti–Semitic sentiments on a minimum of six questions (out of eleven) in order to be considered as “expressing anti–Semitic views.” The global average in 2014 was thirty-four percent. For more information, see Anti–Defamation League, Global 100 Survey: Annual Report (2015), http://global100.adl.org/. 30 Anti–Defamation League, Global 100 Survey: Annual Report. A sampling error in either 2014 or 2015 could also explain these dissimilar statistics. For example, thirty-three percent of adults surveyed in 2014 were older than fifty, while only twenty-three percent of those surveyed in 2015 were of this demographic. As previously discussed in this paper, if we understand that younger Russians express greater tolerance, on average, we may assume that a disproportionately large sample taken from an older demographic may skew survey results. 31 Levada Analytical Center, “Russian Public Opinion: 2012-2013,” table 18.7, http://www.levada.ru/old/books/obshchestvennoe-mnenie-2012-eng. 32 Levada Analytical Center, “Russian Public Opinion: 2010-2011,” table 15.12, http://en.d7154.agava.net/sites/en.d7154.agava.net/files/Levada2011Eng.pdf. 33 According to the same parameters set by the Anti–Defamation League’s Global 100 Survey, France indexed at thirty-sevent percent in 2014 and seventeen percent in 2015, with signs pointing to similar demographic sampling errors as mentioned in footnote 32; Greece indexed at a whopping sixty-nine percent 29
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report by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, five attacks, one insult and thirty-eight instances of anti-Jewish vandalism were recorded in Russia from 2011 to 2012. 34 Subsequent reports by the Kantor Center and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress list fifteen violent crimes against Jews recorded in 2013 (compared with the 116 violent acts reported in France) and ten in 2014.35 Alternatively, the SOVA Center recorded fourteen incidents of anti-Semitism in 2011, eight incidents in 2012, including one case of arson, and three cases of vandalism in 2013. 36 Variation likely exists according to whether victims or bystanders reported the crimes at all, and whether authorities recorded violent actions as ethnically motivated crimes. But the rarity of anti-Semitic attacks in recent years should not be conflated haphazardly with a dissipated anti-Semitism. In a 2014 SOVA Center report, Natalia Yudina and Vera Alperovich write: “The most likely reason for [these low numbers] is the fact that the Jews are visually difficult to distinguish in a crowd, while attacks next to the synagogue, for example, are too dangerous.” 37 Still, on December 2, 2014, three unidentified men speaking a “non-Russian language” attacked a Jewish student with brass knuckles outside of the Torat Chaim yeshiva in north Moscow, indicating that attacks next to a Jewish institution are not unheard of.38 Russian foreign policy toward Israel remains an important distinction in one’s evaluation of Russia’s domestic Jewry. First, many Jews in Russia maintain personal relationships—whether familial or professional—with Israelis; second, many Russian citizens are dual-passport holders with Israel; and third, waves of anti-Zionism—often coinciding with anti-Semitic rhetoric and propaganda—are no stranger to the Russian state (consider, for example, the creation of the official Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet in 2014 and sixty-seven percent in 2015; and Hungary indexed at forty-one percent in 2014 and forty percent in 2015. Anti–Defamation League, Global 100 Survey, http://global100.adl.org/. 34 Semen Charny, “Anti-Semitism in Russia: 2011-2012,” Euro-Asian Jewish Congress Report, May 7, 2013, http://eajc.org/page34/news38186.html. 35 Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and Moshe Kantor Program For The Study Of Antisemitism and Racism, Anti–Semitism Worldwide: 2013, 4, http://www.eurojewcong.org/docs/antisemitism_worldwide_2013_report_tel_aviv_university.pdf. See EuroAsian Jewish Congress, “Anti–Semitism in FSU—2014,” 6, http://www.eajc.org/data/file/AntisemitismReport2014engl.pdf. 36 Natalia Yudina and Vera Alperovich, “The Ultra-Right on the Streets with a Pro-Democracy Poster in Their Hands or a Knife in Their Pocket: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2012,” SOVA Analytical Report on Racism and Xenophobia, April 26, 2014, http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2013/04/d26972/. Also see Yudina and Alperovich, “The State Duma Directed Right Radicals Toward New Goals: Xenophobia, Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in Russia during the First Half of 2013,” SOVA Analytical Report on Racism and Xenophobia, August 12, 2013, http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reportsanalyses/2013/08/d27659/. 37 Natalia Yudina and Vera Alperovich, “The Ultra-Right Shrugged: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2013,” SOVA Analytical Report on Racism and Xenophobia, March 31, 2014, http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports–analyses/2014/03/d29236/. 38 “Jewish Student Badly Beaten Outside Yeshiva in Russia,” Times of Israel, December 3, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/jewish-student-attacked-outside-russian-yeshiva/.
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Public in 1983). While Putin remained neutral regarding the Israel-Hamas war of 2014— playing lip service to both sides—relations between Russia and Israel remain relatively stable. In 2013, Zvi Magen, the former Israeli ambassador in Moscow, spoke of a warming friendship between the two countries: Since Mr. Putin returned as Russia’s president last year, bilateral relations have been better than ever. One reason was Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Soviet-born former foreign minister… Three days after the rigged Duma election in late 2011, Mr. Lieberman was the first foreign politician to congratulate Mr. Putin on his party’s victory, saying that his observers had spotted no violations. Mr. Lieberman always had a strong following among the influential Russian diaspora in Israel.39
The two countries have maintained visa-free travel for Russian and Israeli citizens since 2008, perhaps playing a role in the popularization of Tel Aviv as a tourist destination for cold-climate Russians. And in September 2015, Clement Fortin, senior advisor to the president of Moscow’s Skoltech Institute for Science and Technology, singled out Israel as a valued model for Moscow-based start-ups in the fields of entrepreneurship and engineering.40 The sentiment seems to trickle down, as extremely negative opinions about Israel have stayed under five percent since 2008. 41 And only five percent of Russians surveyed by the Levada Center from 2008 to 2012 said that Zionists are the enemy of the Russian state.42 Likewise, positive opinions about Israel have remained steady, between sixty-two and sixty-five percent from 2003 to 2014. 43 Three percent of Russian adults surveyed in 2013 even called Israel one of Russia’s closest friends. 44 While this survey concluded before the summer 2014 war broke out between Israel and Hamas, and a more recent survey has yet to be released, the fierce global criticism of Israel and world Jewry seems less virulent in Russia. Although this remains a topic for further discussion, one might attribute this lessened criticism to tourism, commerce, technological borrowing, or federal partnerships between the two states. A final note: it appears that as intolerance shifted away from the Jewish minority, intolerance for other minority groups in Russia (Central Asians, Caucasians and the gay community) has increased since Putin came to power. This turn might be explained by a rise in anti-Muslim xenophobia following the second Chechen war of 1999-2000, or recent terrorist attacks such as the 2002 Moscow theatre siege, the 2004 Beslan school bombing, the 2009 Nevsky Express bombing, and the 2013 bus and railway station bombings in Volgograd. More severe punishments for certain hate crimes might offer another 39
“Vladimir Putin and the Holy Land,” The Economist, March 16, 2013, http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21573600-warmer-relations-israel-do-not-stop-russia-backingsyria-and-iran-vladimir-putin-and-holy. 40 Clement Fortin (senior advisor, Skoltech Institute for Science and Technology), presentation to Stanford US-Russia Forum, Moscow, Russia, September 2015. 41 Levada Analytical Center, “Russian Public Opinion: 2012-2013,” table 22.13. 42 Ibid., table 22.5. 43 Ibid., table 22.13. 44 Ibid., table 22.6.
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explanation. For instance, four anti-Semitic hate crimes were prosecuted in the first four months of 2014. In one example, a resident of Karelia published anti-Semitic statements, including “Kill the Jews,” on his vKontakte social media profile. He was convicted under Section 1, Article 282 of the Criminal Code (Incitement to Hatred) and fined.45 It appears that Russian courts not only refuse to prosecute hate crimes against other minority groups but also pass legislation that further “others” these minorities (such as the “homosexual propaganda” law, which may fuel anti-gay hate crimes that will not likely be unprosecuted). 46 This judicial and legal protection of the Jewish minority against hate crimes is further analyzed in the following section of this paper.
The Chabad-run Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center opened in Moscow in 2012 at a cost of $50 million. (Photo by author)
Russian Jewish Congress, “Manifestations of Antisemitism in Russia from January to April 2014,” http://help.rjc.ru/site.aspx?SECTIONID=345556&IID=2580752. 46 Steve Gutterman, “Russian Gay Man Killed In Nation’s Second Alleged Hate Crime In Weeks,” Reuters, June 3, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/russia-gay-hate-crime-alleged_n_3377085.html; Mairbek Vatchagaev, “North Caucasians in Russian Capital Increasingly Target of Hate Crimes,” Eurasia Daily Monitor 11, no. 214 (2013), http://www.jamestown.org/programs/edm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=41695&cHash=a578a97c73c0 7fd28b792bf7ed36cd9d - .VjvTzq6rSRs.
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From State–Sponsored Anti–Semitism to Judicial Protection On January 11, 2006, Alexander Koptsev entered Moscow’s Bolshaya Bronnaya synagogue during evening prayers. While shouting “Heil Hitler,” Koptsev stabbed eight worshippers with a hunting knife. Within two days, authorities charged Koptsev with racially motivated attempted murder and the humiliation of a religious group. At his trial the following month, Koptsev announced that he “went to the synagogue to kill as many Jews as possible.” Initially, the courts did not find Koptsev guilty of a hate crime as outlined in Article 282 and instead gave him a thirteen-year sentence for attempted murder. Russia’s Supreme Court later overturned the verdict and sent the case back to a Moscow city court, where Koptsev was tried again. At the retrial in September 2006, the city court gave Koptsev an even harsher sentence—sixteen years with compulsory psychiatric treatment in a maximum-security prison—based on new charges including an intention to incite ethnic hatred. In a country where pogroms, quotas and forced displacement of the Jewish minority existed only a few decades prior, this high-profile sentencing proved monumental when it identified the anti-Semitic hate crime as a punishable offence.47 The Koptsev trial is just one example of how the Russian judicial system has recently protected the Jewish minority against ethnically motivated hate crimes.48 Neo-Nazi Lev Molotkov’s murder of twenty-seven youths in 2007-2008 (for which he received life in prison) incited Nikolai Tkachuk, a Moscow District judge, to discuss strengthening Russia’s official stance against hate crimes. 49 In November 2012, Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that Smolensk city councilor Andrei Ershov resigned following his anti-Semitic criticism of a proposed program for Holocaust survivors caused public outcry. (Ershov suggested that survivors did not deserve urban transit vouchers just because they were “not killed off” in the Holocaust.) 50 And when the popular online newspaper Lenta.ru published a report highlighting Jewish wealth, Nikolai Svanidze of the Russian Council for Civil Society and Human Rights—a Kremlin-affiliated organization mandated to monitor and report on hate crimes—was quick to condemn.51 The criminal code now prohibits prejudice-motivated hate crimes that previously fell within the category of “hooliganism.” 52 For example, Article 63 protects against those seeking to “commission a crime by reason of national, racial, or religious hatred.” Articles 47
BBC, “Moscow Synagogue Attacker Jailed,” September 15, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5348790.stm. 48 Paul LeGendre, “Minorities Under Siege: Hate Crimes and Intolerance in the Russian Federation,” Human Rights First, June 26, 2006, https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/06623discrim-Minorities-Under-Siege-Russia-web.pdf. 49 Agence France-Presse, “Russian Neo-Nazi Sentenced to Life for 27 Murders,” November 7, 2011, http://www.alternet.org/rss/breaking_news/632362/russian_neo-nazi_sentenced_to_life_for_27_murders. 50 Olga Efremova, “Holocaust Denier Resigns from City Council on Ethics,” Komsomol’skaya Pravda, November 2, 2012, http://www.smol.kp.ru/online/news/1287141/. 51 Ben Cohen, “Kremlin Attack on Russian Website for ‘Nazi’ List of Wealthy Jews Meets Skeptical Response,” Algemeiner, November 3, 2014, http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/11/03/kremlin-attack-onrussian-website-for-nazi-list-of-wealthy-jews-meets-skeptical-response/. 52 Sarai Brachman Shoup, “From Leadership to Community: Laying the Foundation for Jewish Community in Russia,” in Jewish Life After the USSR, 133.
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105, 111, 112, 117, and 357 protect against various types of inflicted harm, from ethnically or religiously motivated murder and assault, to a prohibition against genocide. Article 136 guarantees consequence for the violation of another’s equality of human rights, and Article 148 specifically protects religious freedom. Of particular interest, Article 244 protects against the desecration of both the deceased and their burial places, which is one of the most common anti-Semitic acts in post-Soviet Russia. Last, Article 282 explicitly protects against the incitement of hatred on national, racial or religious grounds.53 All of these laws carry criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment, a welcome shift from the Soviet era. Finally, in May 2014, the Duma passed the so-called anti-Nazi rehabilitation law, which promises criminal punishment for the desecration of war memorials, as well as “the denial of facts set out by the post-war Nuremberg trials and the dissemination of false information on the actions of the Soviet Union during the war.”54 The introduction of this law coincided with the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, when pro-Russian and proUkrainian forces fought for control over eastern and southern regions of the country. The conflict started when Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich refused to sign the European Union’s 2013 association agreement, after which the pro-European and proUkrainian Euromaidan protesters demanded his resignation. Russian media played off of the anti-Nazi rehabilitation law by projecting the (largely non-Jewish) Euromaidan protesters as simultaneously neo-Nazis, fascists, bandits, and Jews. 55 There is even a sarcastic term for the Russian media’s incommensurable juxtaposition: the zhido-bandera— “a portmanteau that combines the Russian slur for Jews and [Soviet-era Ukrainian nationalist] Stepan Bandera … [which] is a mind-bending oxymoron that implicates Jews as murdersome anti-Semites.”56 By discrediting Ukrainian nationalists as dangerous antiSemites, Putin seemed to be trying to invalidate accusations of Russia’s intolerance toward its domestic minorities while communicating interest in protecting Jews from (supposedly) resurgent fascism. While smashing windows and spray-painting synagogues remain grave offenses, does a move away from targeted violence and official anti-Semitism indicate a lessening of hatred, a strengthening of judicial consequence, or just a period of general calm on the everoscillating wave of Russian intolerance? Since life has improved for Russian Jews, do lessviolent forms of anti-Semitism—a flyer, a graffiti tag, an off-colour comment by a politician—lack relative weight and urgency? Do new displays of tolerance—kosher grocery stores near the Marina Roshcha metro station, public Hanukkah celebrations in Siberian cities, a strong acknowledgement and acceptance of the Holocaust (according to the ADL’s 53
The Criminal Code Of The Russian Federation, Russian State Duma and Federation Council (1996), Chapters 16 and 34, 19, 25, 29, http://www.russian-criminal-code.com/. 54 Neil Macfarquhar, “Russia Revisits Its History to Nail Down Its Future,” New York Times, May 11, 2014, file://localhost/, http/::www.nytimes.com:2014:05:12:world:europe:russia-revisits-its-history-to-naildown-its-future.html%3F_r=0. 55 Alina Polyakova, “Russia Can’t Decide if Ukrainian Jews are Victims or Villans,” New Republic, April 28, 2014, http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117556/putins-russia-using-ukrainian-jews-propaganda-tools. 56 Ibid.
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Global 100 survey, of the seventy-four percent of Russians that claimed to know of the Holocaust in 2014, ninety-three percent agreed that it happened)57 —indicate a general, or at least a relative, tolerance for the Jewish people in Russia?
Shoppers check out at one of Moscow’s growing number of kosher supermarkets. Signs in Russian advertise Sabbath times at the nearby Marina Roshcha synagogue. (Photo by author)
The Russian Jewish Future in Turbulent Times In this paper, I detailed how the current Russian administration has not only put an end to the official anti-Semitism of the Soviet era, but also now offers legal protection for Russian Jews by prosecuting anti-Semitic and xenophobic hate crimes. I have left aside discussions of how Middle Eastern affairs and a nationwide turn to social conservatism potentially impact the Jewish community. They are topics for future consideration. To conclude, I address Russia’s current financial crisis—triggered by sagging oil prices and an onslaught of Western sanctions in response to Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine—and predict the impact that this may have on Russia’s Jewish community. Brym’s prediction of future anti-Semitism is vague enough to be compelling; he writes, “Anti-Semitism remains part of Russia’s cultural repertoire … ready to be invoked under the right political circumstances.”58 What are the right political circumstances? For 57
Anti-Defamation League, Global 100 Survey. Robert Brym, “Russian Attitudes Toward Jews: an Update,” East European Jewish Affairs 26, no. 1 (1996), 206. 58
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example, the inflation rate in Russia averaged 15.79 percent for the entirety of 2015. And there exists a historic tendency for anti-Semites to blame financial crises on visible Jewish businesses and Jewish business-leaders.59 The Global 100 Survey demonstrates that fortynine percent of Russian respondents believe that Jews have too much power in the business world, while forty-four percent say Jews have too much power in international financial markets. 60 Indeed, several Russian oligarchs that are professionally aligned with Putin, including billionaire Roman Abramovich, publicly support Jewish causes, such as Chabad Lubavitch, the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia. What might happen, then, if Russia’s financial crisis continues or worsens? Might Putin’s associations with Jewish business leaders—combined with the fallen ruble and a misguided assumption that Jews control the economy—elicit an antiSemitic ascent? Last, there is the reality that Russia’s Jewish minority may fall out of favor with the current regime. In November 2012, Putin’s United Russia party passed a law requiring politically active non-profit organizations that receive funding from abroad to register (sometimes without their consent) as foreign agents. In January 2015, thirty new groups appeared on a registry of identified foreign agents, including the Birobidzhan Jewish regional chapter of the Municipal Academy All-Russian Civic Organization, which was then liquidated in May 2015.61 By September 2015, the Jewish cultural centre of Ryazan was added to the list for its ties to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.62 If we consider that the majority of ethnic entrepreneurs in Russia’s Jewish community— including but not limited to Hillel, Moishe House, the Jewish Federation, Chabad Lubavitch, and the Jewish Agency—are Israeli or American organizations, it is not farfetched that Jewish organizations that preach ideologies of liberalism or Zionism may be at risk of pressure, raiding or liquidation if subjected to the so-called foreign-agent law. While it is difficult to assess the future viability of Jewish life in Russia, at this present time we know three things. First, we know that Russian Jews are no longer victims of official, state-led anti-Semitism. Second, new civil liberties—the freedom of movement, protections against hate crimes and the proliferation of communal social services, among others—grant Russian Jews a relatively comfortable life. Third, the Kremlin’s anti-fascist rhetoric and seemingly philo-Semitic actions bode well for the Jewish community, as good relations have led to an explosion of institutional life, including a multitude of cultural and religious options, from Reform to Orthodox. In particular, Chabad, a Hasidic branch of 59
Lars Rensmann, “The Politics of Paranoia: How—and Why—the European Radical Right Mobilizes Antisemitism, Xenophobia, and Counter-Cosmopolitanism,” in Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity, Volume III Global Antisemitism: Past and Present, ed. Charles Asher Small (Leidin and Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2013), 228. 60 Anti-Defamation League, Global 100 Survey. 61 Human Rights Watch, “Russia: Government Against Rights Groups,” November 6, 2015, https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/06/russia-government-against-rights-groups. 62 Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Russia Lists JDC-Funded Cultural Group Among ‘Foreign Agents,’” September 16, 2015, http://www.jta.org/2015/09/16/news-opinion/world/russia-lists-jdc-funded-culturalgroup-among-foreign-agents.
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ultra-Orthodox Judaism, is presently thriving in the Russia. As of 2004, the movement’s umbrella organization, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, provides welfare services to 240,000 “impoverished and socially isolated elderly Jews” throughout the former Soviet Union. 63 Moreover, the movement has established itself as the forefront Jewish authority with which the federal government negotiates. Whether this relationship is a result of Putin’s recent lean toward social conservatism, an instrumental effort to provide social services, or simply the federal government’s preference to work with hierarchically organized organizations, the partnership between Chabad and Putin is largely successful. Nevertheless, the question stands: Should Russian Jews be content with this sense (or façade) of independence and security? And as the Jewish minority in Russia benefits from tougher legislation, is it also their obligation to protect the rights of others? Simply put, what are the potential costs of complacency? The current regime will not be in power forever. Coups and electoral upsets dot Russian history. Under new leadership—or a rapid change in the political climate—latent anti-Semitism could take on a new character, with the Jewish minority as the revived enemy of the Russian state. Bibliography Anti-Defamation League, Global 100 Survey, Annual Report, 2015 edition. http://global100.adl.org/. Azadovskii, Konstantin and Boris Egorov. “From Anti-Westernism to Anti-Semitism.” Journal of Cold War Studies 4, no. 1 (Winter 2002): 66–80. Brym, Robert. “Russian Attitudes Toward Jews: an Update.” East European Jewish Affairs 26, no. 1 (1996). ——, and Rozalina Ryvkina. Russian Jewry Today: A Sociological Profile. Ramat-Gan: BarIlan University, 1996. Charny, Semen. “Anti-Semitism in Russia: 2011-2012.” Analytics Report. Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. http://eajc.org/page34/news38186.html. Chervyakov, Valeriy, Zvi Gitelman, and Vladimir Shapiro. “Religion and Ethnicity: Judaism in the Ethnic Consciousness of Contemporary Russian Jews.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 20, no. 2 (1997). Elazar, Daniel. Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1995. Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. “Anti-Semitism in FSU—2014.” http://www.eajc.org/data/file/AntisemitismReport2014engl.pdf. Gitelman, Zvi. “Introduction.” In Jewish Life After the USSR, edited by Zvi Gitelman, Musya Glants, and Marshall I. Goldman, 1-12. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2003. ——. Jewish Identities in Postcommunist Russia and Ukraine: An Uncertain Ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 63
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Year Book 2004: JDC in the Former Soviet Union (New York: JDC, 2004), in Gitelman, Jewish Identities, 186.
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——. “Jewish Identity and Secularism in Post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine.” In Religion or Ethnicity? Jewish Identities in Evolution, edited by Zvi Gitelman. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009. Gutterman, Steve. “Russian Gay Man Killed in Nation’s Second Alleged Hate Crime in Weeks.” Reuters, June 3, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/russia-gayhate-crime-alleged-_n_3377085.html. Human Rights Watch. “Russia: Government Against Rights Groups.” https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/06/russia-government-against-rights-groups. Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and Moshe Kantor Program For The Study Of Antisemitism and Racism. Antisemitism Worldwide 2013: General Analysis, Draft. European Jewish Congress, 2013. http://www.kantorcenter.tau.ac.il/sites/default/files/Doch_2013.pdf. ——. Antisemitism Worldwide 2014: General Analysis, Draft. European Jewish Congress, 2014. http://www.eurojewcong.org/docs/Doch2014_(130415).docx.pdf. Legendre, Paul. “Minorities Under Siege: Hate Crimes and Intolerance in the Russian Federation.” Human Rights First Report. https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wpcontent/uploads/pdf/06623-discrim-Minorities-Under-Siege-Russia-web.pdf. Levada Center. “Russian Public Opinion: 2010-2011.” http://en.d7154.agava.net/sites/en.d7154.agava.net/files/Levada2011Eng.pdf. ——. “Russian Public Opinion: 2012-2013.” http://www.levada.ru/sites/default/files/2012_eng.pdf. Polyakova, Alina. “Russia Can’t Decide if Ukrainian Jews are Victims or Villains.” New Republic, April 28, 2014. https://newrepublic.com/article/117556/putins-russia-usingukrainian-jews-propaganda-tools. Rensmann, Lars. “The Politics of Paranoia: How—and Why—the European Radical Right Mobilizes Antisemitism, Xenophobia, and Counter-Cosmopolitanism.” In Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity, Volume III Global Antisemitism: Past and Present, edited by Charles Asher Small, 223–236. Leiden and Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2013. Rickman, Gregg. Hating the Jews: The Rise of Antisemitism in the 21st Century. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2012. Russian Jewish Congress. “Anti-Semitism in Russia in 2013.” http://help.rjc.ru/site.aspx?SECTIONID=85646&IID=2527868. ——. “Manifestations of Antisemitism in Russia from January to April 2014.” http://help.rjc.ru/site.aspx?SECTIONID=345556&IID=2580752. Shoup, Sarai Brachman. “From Leadership to Community: Laying the Foundation for Jewish Community in Russia.” In Jewish Life After the USSR, edited by Zvi Gitelman, Musya Glants, and Marshall I. Goldman, 127-140. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2003. Tolts, Mark. “Demography of the Jews in the Former Soviet Union: Yesterday and Today.” In Jewish Life After the USSR, edited by Zvi Gitelman, Musya Glants, and Marshall I. Goldman, 173-208. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2003.
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Crime and Punishment
——. “Jewish Emigration from the Soviet Union since the 1970s Reaches Nearly Two Million People.” Demoskope Weekly, no. 497-498 (February 6-19, 2012). http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2012/0497/tema01.php. ——. “Post-Soviet Aliyah and Jewish Demographic Transformation.” Paper presented at the 15th World Congress of Jewish Studies Conference, Jerusalem. 2009. http://bjpa.org/Publications/downloadPublication.cfm?PublicationID=11924 ——. “Sources for the Demographic Study of the Jews in the Former Soviet Union.” In The Social Scientific Study of Jewry: Sources, Approaches, Debates, edited by Uzi Rebhun, 160–177. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Vatchagaev, Mairbek. “North Caucasians in Russian Capital Increasingly Target of Hate Crimes.” Eurasia Daily Monitor 11, no. 214 (2013). http://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=41695&no_cache=1#.Vl i3kd-rSt8. “Vladimir Putin and the Holy Land,” Economist, March 16, 2013. http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21573600-warmer-relations-israel-do-notstop-russia-backing-syria-and-iran-vladimir-putin-and-holy. Wistrich, Robert S. European Anti-Semitism Reinvents Itself. New York: American Jewish Committee, 2005. Yudina, Natalia, and Vera Alperovich. “Calm Before the Storm? Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2014.” SOVA Center for Information and Analysis. http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reportsanalyses/2015/04/d31818/. ——. “The State Duma Directed Right Radicals Toward New Goals: Xenophobia, Radical Nationalism and Efforts to Counteract It in Russia during the First Half of 2013.” SOVA Analytical Report on Racism and Xenophobia. http://www.sovacenter.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2013/08/d27659/. ——. “The Ultra-Right on the Streets with a Pro-Democracy Poster in Their Hands or a Knife in Their Pocket: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2012.” SOVA Analytical Report on Racism and Xenophobia. http://www.sova–center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2013/04/d26972/. ——. “The Ultra-Right Shrugged: Xenophobia and Radical Nationalism in Russia, and Efforts to Counteract Them in 2013.” SOVA Analytical Report on Racism and Xenophobia. http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports– analyses/2014/03/d29236/. Zimberg, Alexis. “Free state: Moscow’s Jewish Museum and its Quest for an Open Society.” Calvert Journal. May 13, 2014. http://calvertjournal.com/comment/show/2487/moscow-jewish-museum-appealrussian-tolerance.
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MEMOIR: OF PARSNIPS AND MOTHER TONGUES LIZA FUTERMAN1 University of Toronto _______________
Here, no one’s mother tongue is English. That is not to say that people were not born here; but rather, that most of the mothers of the people I know, were not. My mother was not. My mother tongue is Russian. But this is not the language in which I dream, love, eat… I don’t know the names of the foods that I eat in Russian, at least not all of them. I don’t even know how to say “identity” in this mother language of mine. The other day I tried to tell mama and papa about a food project I’m working on with my Nepali friend. But I felt stuck and fell silent when I didn’t know how to explain a project that looks at the relationships among food, memory and identity. I said: “We are looking at the ways in which a particular food can become a definitive force in individuals’ attempts to reflect on their memories and their… Their…
This piece was largely inspired by discussions with members of the “MemoryLoss” research group at the Centre for Memory and Testimony Studies at Wilfred Laurier University, in Waterloo, Ont. Special thanks goes to Noam Lemish for drawing my attention to the ways in which we communicate our identities through our multiple native and non-native tongues. I wish to thank Josh Tapper and Alexis Lerner for their valuable feedback.
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How would you say ‘identity card’ in Russian?” No not the technical term that means ‘identification with’… I mean, it’s part of it, but it’s more than this… Do you know what ‘identity’ is? No? me neither…” We ended up talking about the weather. I was born in Russia, but I grew up in Israel. My family and I moved not because of Zionism, religion, tradition or some other such grand narrative. We moved because of food, or rather a lack of it. My brother and I were diagnosed with celiac in our first years out of our mother’s womb. Celiac is a digestive and autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that results in severe gluten intolerance. Some might call celiac a disease, but I don’t feel particularly diseased so I just say celiac—for me, much like displacement, it’s a lifestyle. Since not much was known about gluten back in the 1980s, especially not in the deficitstruck Soviet Union, hospital officials registered us with Moscow’s diabetics society. Each month we received a package of insulin injections. This gesture was not of much help to our nutrition, although my brother and I had a blast with the syringes, filling them with water in the bathtub and shooting each other. Mama and papa were less thrilled about getting the syringes, and after long debates with babushka they decided to emigrate once the opportunity presented itself. The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1991 was precisely what my parents and babushka were waiting for. The event promised to rescue us all from the endless queues to buy oranges, toilet paper, fish wrapped in newspaper, and other such delicacies.
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Of Parsnips and Mother Tongues
Waiting for the train from Moscow to Budapest, where we would catch a flight to Israel, mama and papa repeated the name of the new place we would find ourselves a few hours later. I remember asking repeatedly about this new place and why were we going there. I can’t remember the answers, but I do remember mama and papa promising there would be sun, palm trees and bananas! All of their promises were fulfilled. Growing up in a country that was not ours presented my babushka with numerous anxieties. She worried that Hebrew would replace her grandchildren’s mother tongue. I never shared this anxiety. Language never seemed like something I could lose; it was never a thing I owned in the first place. Babushka, a gynecologist by profession, was an amazing cook and baker. The kitchen was her temple and preparing food was her religion. With her strong hands, she ground glutenfree grains such as rice and corn into starchy flours. She mixed the ingredients and kneaded the dough to form cakes, pastries and blini for my brother and me. She watched cooking shows attentively; a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other, she wrote everything down. There were so many notebooks. I once tried to decipher her messy handwriting without much luck. She worried that we didn’t eat enough so she cooked and baked and cooked some more. She called me a “gourmand” when I refused to finish a meal because it wasn’t to my taste. I wonder if I’ve become one because of her.
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I haven’t lost the little Russian I had when I left my motherland, which never felt motherly to me. Mama and papa worked hard to make sure I acquired new words, new turns of phrase, new ways of revealing and concealing. But I lost the ability to experience the language. Maybe losing a language is possible after all? Mama, papa and babushka became ima, aba and safta after we immigrated to Israel. But they never metamorphosed into mom, dad and grandma. It’s just not who they are. I feel most at home in Hebrew. I can say whatever I want, however I wish, and I don’t doubt my ability to express myself so that I’m understood. Hebrew is the least tiresome language for me. It doesn’t require my tongue to roll on my palate in an unnatural way, as if I have pebbles down my throat and in the void of my oral cavity between my teeth and tongue. And still, Hebrew seems to lack words that make my palate satisfied and my stomach full. Words such as “parsnip.” Or “gluten-free.” In Hebrew you’d say: “lacking gluten.” The lack is inherent in the Hebrew that I eat. I fell in love with English fairly early, maybe because I wished to complement the absence that I felt with Hebrew and Russian, or maybe because I wanted to be more like my brother. He is a year older than me, and at the age of 10 he started learning English with a private tutor. I asked ima and aba to send me to the same tutor. I loved the feeling of my tongue rolling on my palate while producing the English rrrrrr, and not quite hissing between my teeth when I produced words like “this” and “thousand.” I liked being able to understand all the English-language TV shows without subtitles, and I loved reading books that opened on the left and closed on the right (the way I read in my mother tongue). Still, none of my experiences with English prepared me for my encounter with the parsnip.
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Of Parsnips and Mother Tongues
It took me almost three decades to learn about parsnips, not only the word but also the strange and comforting flavour of the roasted root vegetable. I was a graduate student at Oxford University, sitting on a narrow bench in a 700-year-old dining hall, surrounded by 200 students and faculty members more than three thousand miles from home, when I first tasted the soft texture and mildly sharp taste of… What? I wanted to know what triggered this sensation. I wanted a word that could tell me how to communicate my love for this edible piece of heaven. Parsnip. I learned the word fairly quickly, but it had no meaning in my trilingual brain—it had no signifier. I asked my friends what a parsnip was. I checked a bulky dictionary. I called my parents. Finally, I discovered that in Russian a parsnip is pasternak, like the writer (I wonder which one came first), and in Hebrew, you would say “white carrot.” This actually presented a clear mental image, but not one that matched any vegetable I’d seen before. The frustration was resolved when I found the desired word stuck on a heap of what looked like beige and yellowish carrots in the supermarket. I still miss parsnip whenever I go back to Israel. And not just the taste of it. This sense of absence, the inability to communicate flavours and textures is one that I find most common among multi-linguals and multi-placials. I feel confident enough in my displacement to invent words that would communicate the sense of (dis)belonging to more than one place. This deficit of words was the most challenging part of entering the English-speaking world. I found that I could talk fairly easily about Walter Benjamin’s convoluted concept of history and its relevance to contemporary politics, but I could not communicate what spices I used to cook borscht and prepare hummus. I could not instantaneously think of a word or a string of words that could describe the sensation of eating a caraway seed, or the soothing texture of coconut butter as it melts once it touches the palate exactly in the same place where the English rrrrrr is produced.
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Or why turquoise, when pronounced in Hebrew as turkiz, always evokes the taste of celery in my mind. Â&#x; Iâ€™ve been writing and living in English for two-thirds of my life. Hebrew and Russian, however, never deserted me. They tend to reappear in the most unpredictable places, like mushrooms that pop above ground after a tsunami. The words and sounds make their way unexpectedly into my mind and out of my mouth. To be sure, my mother tongue is no longer Russian. Nor is it Hebrew. Rather, it is the mixture of the languages that I live, speak and taste. No matter where I travel, these words follow me like faithful companions. At times I think that I have mastered all three languages. At others, it seems the languages have mastered me.
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PHOTO-ESSAY: JEW-WANDERING ZOHAR WEIMAN-KELMAN University of Pennsylvania _______________
hese photos from the series Jew-Wandering represent stops on a queer adventure between Warsaw, Jerusalem and Toronto, between past and present, between my personal history and the histories with which it intersects. As I travel across these locales, my drag-king persona, the Wandering Jew, exposes different tensions, illustrating the irreducible complexity of the Jewish past and the Jewish present. These works represent a process of encounter and negotiation, highlighting the boundaries that mark difference and binding ties.
(Photo by Marta Bogdanska)
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In Warsaw, a central city in Jewish history, the Wandering Jew stands out first and foremost for being Jewish. He is a relic of the Polish past, in a country with a diminished Jewish present. In this image, shot by the Warsaw-based photographer Marta Bogdanska, the Wandering Jew is a visibly queer presence, a striking affront to Polandâ€™s renewed conservative Catholic social agenda.
(Photo by Tamir Lederberg)
In Jerusalem, the city of my birth, the Wandering Jew is characterized by a sort of Eastern European Jewish effeminacy, which stands in theoretical opposition to the imagined masculinity of the Zionist movement. In this photograph by the Berlin-based Israeli photographer Tamir Lederberg, the Wandering Jewâ€™s queerness signals a religious transgression in a country with a strong ultra-Orthodox rabbinical authority.
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(Photo by Levi Weiman-Kelman)
Finally, in Toronto, the Wandering Jew lands on Markham Street, the same street his great-grandfather, a Hasidic rabbi who emigrated from Polish Galicia in the 1920s, lived and worked. Here the drag-king persona makes me look like the boy my grandfather was in old pictures from the interwar years. As the Wandering Jew, dressed in drag, I imagine myself as part of that past, a past in which I would have no role as a woman. Going back to places of the past that I struggle to remember, moments that have been forgotten and moments that may never have existed, I make visible the uninvited queer, the uninvited Jew, the uninvited woman. These are vital disruptions. But these are also moments of remembrance, regeneration and invention, as the figure forges alliances between generations and builds connections with artists and activists. Between longing for a past, and future desire, I find my present queer home(s).
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Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland, by Glenn Dynner, New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 272 pp.
When the eponymous hero of Adam Mickiewicz’s 1834 epic poem, Pan Tadeusz, enters his local tavern, he encounters a gathering of peasants, gentry and clergy drinking and chatting while Yankel, a wise Jewish tavernkeeper, amiably watches.1 It is precisely this image of togetherness—of commercial coexistence between Jews and non-Jews—for which historian Glenn Dynner argues in his immensely readable new book, Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland. Dynner’s concise narrative portrays the Jewish-run tavern as a unique site of Polish-Jewish economic integration. Using this rural setting in the nineteenth-century Kingdom of Poland, Dynner captures the nuanced complexity of Jewish and non-Jewish relations, revealing the binaries of trust and mistrust, camaraderie and hostility, so deeply embedded in the social milieu. Dynner argues provocatively that, despite the tsarist regime’s efforts to control its Jewish population with an onslaught of prohibitions and social engineering initiatives, a system of mutual dependency shared by Jews, nobles and peasants played a decisive role in preserving the Jewish liquor trade in the nineteenth century. In doing so, the author bravely tackles some of the basic assumptions that have long plagued the historiography of Polish-Jewish relations. Dynner ultimately challenges the consensus among postwar historians that the Jewish liquor trade had died out by the late-nineteenth century. The success of the Jewish liquor trade has received its fair share of scholarly analysis. In The Lords’ Jews, Israeli historian Moshe Rosman describes the alliance between Polish lords and their Jewish subjects in the eighteenth century as a “marriage of convenience” that “took on a life of its own,” transcending mere economic utility.2 Rosman argues that the lord-Jew relationship was not only a potent factor in the social, economic and political dynamics of the Poland-Lithuanian commonwealth, but that it also served as one of the
Adam Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz (1834, repr. London: Polska Fundacja Kulturalna, 1990), Book 4, 16167, in Glenn Dynner, Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 14. 2 Moshe Rosman, The Lords’ Jews: Magnate-Jewish Relations in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), 210.
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Review: Yankel’s Tavern
main determinants of the overall welfare of Polish Jews. 3 Dynner goes a step further, arguing that this alliance persisted well into the nineteenth century. Despite its overt success, the partnership was met with numerous reservations from tsarist officials, landowners, clergy, and even rabbis. Those who opposed the prospering relationship wished to reduce the representation of Jews in the liquor trade in the hopes of transferring manpower to the agricultural and military sectors, both of which were considered “‘positive’ pursuits.”4 To stall the liquor trade, liquor concessions increased and mandated licenses were made more expensive. These policies, however, enjoyed only limited success as Jews found ways to subvert the new regulations. As Dynner writes, “Rural Jews, well practiced in circumventing Jewish law by ‘selling’ and ‘leasing’ their enterprises to Christians on Sabbaths and festivals, now simply hired Christian fronts to elude the concessions with the landowners’ full knowledge and complicity.” 5 So instead of significantly declining in number, as official data and policy pronouncements suggest, rural Jewish tavernkeepers simply became less visible to the state. According to Dynner, the evolution of the Jewish liquor trade into an illicit (and robust) enterprise is evidenced by contemporary descriptions in romantic Polish literature and moralizing petitions (kvitlekh), all of which point to clandestine tavernkeeping. Dynner challenges the positivist bias—that is, a staunch faith in official data and legislation—of postwar historians, who claim that the anti-Jewish liquor legislation came as a result of “the collapse of the noble-Jewish symbiosis.” 6 To be sure, a small group of reform-minded nobles had been advocating for the elimination of the Jewish hold on the liquor trade since the first partition of Poland in 1772 and mercenary landowners were determined to cut out the Jewish middleman. But such landowners were in the minority. According to Rosman, the majority of landowners assisted in taking the Jewish-run tavern industry underground, proving the resilience of the lord-Jew connection.7 At the heart of this relationship was the nobles’ belief in and perpetuation of “the myth of Jewish sobriety.”8 For centuries, Polish nobles believed that Jews possessed the sobriety—not to mention the skills, industry and literacy—needed to run a profitable tavern; the Christian peasantry was considered inept and the minor gentry too difficult and demanding. It may well be true that alcoholism was a more pervasive problem among Christian peasants than their Jewish neighbours, but Dynner nevertheless calls the Jewish sobriety myth into question. Indeed, accounts of Jewish drunkenness abound. To build his case, Dynner cites several Jewish kvitlekh to the nineteenth-century rabbi Elijah Guttmacher, asking him to save his fellow Jews from the consequences of drinking. Moreover, Hasidim, who believed they could achieve ecstatic, mystical heights by imbibing, were popular targets of the maskilim, adherents of the Haskalah Jewish enlightenment movement. And yet, the stereotype of the sober Jew remained intact outside the Jewish 3
Rosman, The Lords’ Jews, 212. Dynner, Yankel’s Tavern, 60. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid., 80. 7 Rosman, The Lords’ Jews, 212. 8 Dynner, Yankel’s Tavern, 17. 4
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community. Polish reformers even cultivated their own twisted image of Jewish sobriety— concluding that shrewd Jewish tavernkeepers stayed sober in order to cheat their intoxicated Polish-Christian customers. And yet, for the nobility Jews were still the preferred choice for tavernkeeping, so long as the nobles enjoyed a monopoly on the production and distribution of alcohol. In this sense, Dynner echoes historian Adam Teller’s assertion that the relationship between the Jewish minority and the Polish nobility was a fundamentally exploitative and feudal one, in which Jews were respected and protected only as long as they enhanced estate revenues by managing taverns.9 With Yankel’s Tavern, Dynner offers a story of depth, nuance and complexity. For students and scholars of Polish-Jewish history, the book illuminates a dimension of the nineteenth-century Polish-Jewish relationship lost among narratives of intense hatred and mistrust. An achievement of social and cultural history, Dynner’s story of cooperation is a welcome chapter in a historiography of Polish-Jewish relations that has dwelled for so long on friction and animosity. Bibliography Dynner, Glenn. Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014. Rosman, Moshe. The Lords’ Jews: Magnate-Jewish Relations in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990. Teller, Adam. Kesef, koah ve-hashpa’ah. Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar, 2006.
Maria Carmela Poblador University of Toronto, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
Adam Teller, Kesef, koah ve-hashpa’ah (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar, 2006), in Dynner, Yankel’s Tavern, 181fn17.
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READING TOGETHER Schwartz-Reisman Graduate Student Conference, University of Toronto _______________
The following reflections are excerpted from a roundtable discussion, titled “Reading Together,” that concluded the Schwartz-Reisman Graduate Student Conference on April 27, 2015, at the University of Toronto’s Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. John Screnock, a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Kennicott Fellow in Hebrew at the University of Oxford, moderated the discussion. To what extent does our understanding of the past and present involve fragments? How do we work with those fragments in constructing our idea of Judaism and “Jewishness”? Joanna Krongold (Department of English) Much of the work presented at the CJS graduate student conference highlighted the desire to arrive at a whole, as opposed to a fragmented, understanding of texts, identities, historical events, or religious beliefs. However, the presentations questioned whether a whole understanding is ever really achievable. Twenty-first century scholars must acknowledge that as they read, their interpretations and interventions transform their subjects into fragmented texts; scholars will always read from their own perspectives and can never wholly assemble the meanings and values originally associated with these texts. The act of writing, too, necessarily involves fragments, for it privileges one story over another. Scholars therefore assemble those written fragments in ways that are meaningful in the present, layering them to form a palimpsest of interpretation and representation. One of the ways that Jewishness can be formulated and maintained is from these fragments of reading and writing. Passing through different cultures, time periods, languages, and places, Jews have carried fragments of songs, stories, jokes, and faiths forward to the present day. The construction of Jewish identity through both reading and writing can therefore be seen as an assembly of these fragments. What are the ethics of being “untimely” readers? Hannah Mayne (Department of Anthropology) As an anthropologist, being untimely can be a source for concern. In fact, a few years ago, several well-known anthropologists published a volume called Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary. It included an entire section that discussed the inherent problem of doing
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research among people and communities and then only publishing that material months, and more often years, later. If we want to raise awareness of inequalities or give back to the communities with whom we are doing research, and if we want to promote change in policy or structure, then being untimely seems like a rather negative outcome of our methods. If, as anthropologists, we are especially attuned to what is emerging in the present and into the future, do we not fall behind, in a sense, if we are untimely? In response, one of the volume’s authors writes, “Anthropology of the contemporary is fated to be derivative … to arrive belatedly and to stay longer.” 1 In this sense, being untimely is precisely something to celebrate because it allows the researcher/author to take a step outside the intimacy of what is happening on the ground and consider what they observe and experience with analytical and critical distance. Following this line of thought, I wonder if, for anthropology, as well as for other fields, we might think with an idea of “unspatiality.” In other words, we learn concepts and theories in one place, travel to another location (archives, a neighbourhood, a country) to study social life, and then travel back to process our materials. We might ask, then, what are the ethics of being “unspatial?” After all, Jewish Studies, in particular, involves study across multiple worlds and worldviews in time and space, across many histories and geographies. Following this line of thought, we might also ask, for whom are we reading and writing? Is it possible to ask questions and produce responses that are pertinent to current academic conversations, and also relevant for Jewish communities (distributed temporally and spatially)? Joanna Krongold The time in which scholars live inevitably affects the way they understand and order the past. For example, the construction of genres of literature or eras of history depends on present understandings of the past. Therefore scholars’ capacity for imagination is crucial. It is only through an imaginative leap that they are able to become untimely readers, for they need the faculty of imagination to transport them back in time. However, scholars are also unable to escape their particular perspectives. Even their imaginations and the possibilities open to them are determined by their own place in time. They need imagination to escape their time, but they need their time to define that imaginative capacity. Embracing and acknowledging this paradox of imagination is central to conducting scholarly reading in an ethical way. In the complex interplay of reader and text, what is the role or impact of the medium in which a text is presented? Amir Lavie (Faculty of Information) The medium, an intermediate agent connecting readers and text, plays a vital role in the understanding, interpretation and communication of texts. In the following remarks, I will 1
Paul Rabinow, et al., Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2008), 68.
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review some attributes of the digital medium and the impact of digitized and digital documents on textual analysis at large and Jewish textual documentation practices in particular. As digital documents become more and more dominant, we have to acknowledge their profound difference from paper documents (as well as earlier forms of recorded information). Easily disseminated and reproduced, they offer readers previously unimagined access and retrieval options and are also capable of integrating into them other, non-written (visual, audio) texts. On the other hand, the entirely different economy of production prevents us from speaking about “originals” and “copies” in the digital realm. Also, the ease of manipulation and mobility of digital documents affects both content and context and requires new methods to measure fundamental concepts such as trustworthiness or authenticity of a text. The digital medium also transforms the reading process: consider hyperlinks and tagging, two qualities that redraw the boundaries between author, publisher and reader, or consider the act of reading long digital texts compared to the material qualities of paper. Moreover, digital documents are perceived as containers or carriers of information rather than the “source” itself—as is mostly the case in paper form. Consider also preservation: popular digitization discourse still tends to partly justify the digital medium as a tool for preserving decaying paper sources. But this is a problematic notion in today's technological climate. File formats and display technologies change constantly and indeed some high-profile digitization projects conducted in the past 15-20 years are almost useless today. Another example is social media files, which are real-time biographical snapshots that can offer immense value to future historians researching the lives and times of global political and cultural leaders to be, currently in their teenage years. However, there is currently no solution for preserving and archiving social media information in a coherent way, in part because the information is presented in extremely complex formats and is “non-archival” by nature. Moreover, private for-profit corporations control and own the information, which they can erase, commodify and sell in the future. With relation to the rich Jewish documentary heritage and the respect it offers to the written word, I believe that the creation of digital repositories can assist the specific Jewsh challenge of structuring cultural and religious identity based mostly on access to shared texts for communities without agreed-upon geographical, linguistic or political centres. Digital repositories can also reflect and maintain the liquid relationship between individual and group identities structured around Jewish community, ethnicity and religion. There seems to be a practical need to digitize existing collections in order to create and enhance access to an infrastructure of primary and secondary sources that will accommodate various user groups: scholars and lay people, Jewish and non-Jewish, and so forth. This must be accomplished on communal, academic, national, and international levels. I find it to be one of the most valuable tasks toward the preservation and progress of Jewish culture.
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Liza Futerman is a second-year PhD student at the Centre for Comparative Literature and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, where she researches the popular discourse around Alzheimer’s disease and the ways it affects policymakers and, in turn, family caregivers and patients. Futerman is the organizer of the MemoryShift conference (2015) and the initiator of the online Arts for Dementia project. She holds an MA in History of Art and Visual Culture from the University of Oxford and a BA and MA from Ben-Gurion University. Joanna Krongold is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Department of English in collaboration with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Building upon her master's degree from the University of Oxford, during which she studied representations of trauma in literature, her dissertation focuses on children's and young adult literature about the Holocaust and World War II. Amir Lavie is a third-year PhD student at the Faculty of Information and Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on digital and digitized historical documents within the context of Jewish memory institutions and Jewish documentation traditions. Noam Lemish, a pianist, composer, scholar, and educator, is a doctoral candidate in Jazz Performance at the Faculty of Music and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. He has several recordings to his credit, most recently Nightfall, 2013 collaboration with percussionist George Marsh, and has performed across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Israel. Lemish’s compositions include chamber, choral, piano, and numerous jazz works, as well as “The People’s King,” a multicultural suite commissioned to celebrate the King of Bhutan’s thirtieth birthday, composed in 2010 while he was teaching music in Bhutan. Alexis Lerner is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, where she is affiliated with the Department of Political Science and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. She is a Stanford University US-Russia Forum research delegate and the director of PostSoviet Graffiti. Hannah Mayne is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. She has researched and written about female settlers in the West
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Bank and is now investigating the gendering of sacred and public spaces in Jerusalem. She is particularly interested in conflicts over gendered practices of religious ritual and current debates regarding rights and tradition. Maria Carmela Poblador is a second-year MA candidate at the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include conflict management in multinational democracies and comparative welfare state research. Jason M. Schlude is an assistant professor of classics at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, in Minnesota. He is a specialist on the Roman Near East and especially the relationship between Rome and ancient Iran, and he is co-director of the Omrit Settlement Excavation Project (OSEP) in northern Israel. His publications on Rome and Parthia can be found in journals including Latomus (2012) and Athenaeum (2013) and Anabasis (2015). Noam Sienna is a PhD student in History and Jewish Studies at the University of Minnesota. His academic work examines the relationships between culture, religion, community, and identity, focusing on the material and ritual culture of the Jewish communities of the Islamic world. He received his MA in 2015 from the University of Toronto, where his thesis focused on the interactions between Jews and demons in North African society from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries. Zohar Weiman-Kelman is a fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate scholar at the Penn Humanities Forum, where she works on sex and Yiddish. She will join the faculty of the Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics at Ben-Gurion University in 2016.
University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought, Volume 1, no. 5 (2015) | 93
University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought, Volume 1, no. 5 (2015) | 94
The University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought is an annual peer-reviewed scholarly journal affiliated with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre f...
Published on Dec 4, 2015
The University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought is an annual peer-reviewed scholarly journal affiliated with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre f...